The Tom Petters fraud case

Deal to buy a judge in Petters case nets a conviction

  • Updated: December 17, 2008 - 7:15 PM

Hennepin County jury convicts man of trying to swindle Petters' lawyer. Man claimed to be able to put a judge in Petters' pocket for $250,000.

A Minneapolis man was convicted Wednesday of trying to swindle the defense lawyer for imprisoned Wayzata businessman Tom Petters.

A Hennepin County District Court jury took less than an hour to convict Derrick Riddle, who acted as his own lawyer.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Tom Fabel, who prosecuted the case, said Riddle could be sentenced to up to 34 months. District Court Judge Mark Wernick set sentencing for 9 a.m. Dec. 24.

Riddle contacted Petters' lawyer Jon Hopeman in late October and told him that he could get a judge to free Petters in exchange for $250,000. Petters remains in jail after being arrested by the FBI and indicted in an alleged long-term fraud scheme. Hopeman notified the federal prosecutor, who sent over FBI Special Agent David Kukura. He helped set up a meeting with Riddle and Hopeman, which was recorded.

In the FBI video, Riddle said he was working on behalf of a large organization called Motivated By Greed that would help get Petters freed. He told Hopeman to drop off $250,000 at a north Minneapolis address, which was Riddle's residence.

In his defense, Riddle argued he wasn't guilty of a crime because there was no victim.

ROCHELLE OLSON

  • about this series

  • The Star Tribune's coverage of the federal fraud case against entrepreneur Tom Petters and the struggles of Petters-owned Sun Country Airlines.
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