Petters timeline

  • Updated: December 2, 2009 - 10:48 PM

 

Born: Thomas J. Petters, July 11, 1957

Hometown: St. Cloud, Minn.

Education: 1975 graduate of Cathedral High School in St. Cloud.

Work experience

1973: Starts Ear Electronics in an office he rented in downtown St. Cloud in his junior year and sells stereo equipment by placing fliers on cars at local high schools and colleges.

1980s: Begins working with Schaak Electronics in St. Cloud, then goes on to run a regional consumer electronics chain in Colorado. He buys five stores in Colorado and Kansas when the firm goes bankrupt. (St. Cloud Times)

1988: Starts Amicus Trading Group, which later became Petters Co. Inc.

1995: Petters Warehouse Direct stores open.

1997: Acquires eight World's Greatest Deals stores from Irwin Jacobs.

1998: Incorporates Redtagoutlet.com, an online consumer retail site. (Sells assets to Ted Deikel in 2000.)

1999: Forms RedtagBiz.com Inc., an Internet wholesaler, which becomes Redtag Inc. in 2000.

2000: Managers at Petters Warehouse Direct buy the company. (Tom Petters reacquires the company in 2005.)

2000: Petters and Deikel start BoomBuy, an Internet company. The store closes in 2003.

2002: Petters and Deikel buy Fingerhut. Petters then becomes a major investor in the firm.

2003: Petters Group Worldwide buys uBid Inc. Petters sells majority ownership in 2005 when uBid goes public.

2004: Petters' son, John T. Petters, is stabbed to death in Italy in March while on a study-abroad trip from Miami University. Petters creates a nonprofit foundation named after his son to fund international scholarship.

2005: Petters Group Worldwide buys Polaroid Holding Co. for $426 million.

2006: Petters Aviation, formed in August, buys 50 percent of Sun Country Airlines with Whitebox Advisors, a Twin Cities investment firm. Petters increases his stake in Sun Country to 80 percent over the next year.

2008: Petters Aviation acquires Charter First Aviation.

2008: Allegations of a massive fraud

Aug. 14: ACORN Capital Group LLC of Greenwich, Conn., files a federal lawsuit in New York accusing Petters of defaulting on $273 million in loans.

Sept. 8: Deanna Coleman, 43, vice president of operations for Petters Co. Inc., approaches the government and alleges that Petters has been running a massive investor fraud scheme since about 1995.

Sept. 24: Federal investigators search the following locations: Petters' Wayzata home and his Minnetonka company headquarters; the Excelsior home and Minnetonka office of Petters consultant Robert White, 68; the Mound home and Excelsior office of business associate Michael Catain, 53; the Shorewood office and home of Frank Vennes Jr., 52; the Las Vegas home of business associate Larry Reynolds.

Sept. 29: Petters resigns as chairman and chief executive of Petters Group Worldwide and its affiliates amid allegations of massive investor fraud.

Oct. 1: Interlachen Harriet Investments Ltd. files a federal lawsuit alleging Petters bilked investors out of $60 million in loans that were supposedly secured by electronics merchandise when, in fact, no such merchandise existed. Numerous similar suits followed.

Oct. 2: Petters and Reynolds are charged in a felony complaint alleging mail and wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. In a separate civil proceeding, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery orders a freeze on the assets of Petters and his companies.

Oct. 3: Petters is arrested and is ordered held without bond in Sherburne County jail.

Oct. 6: Coleman, who first alerted authorities to the fraud scheme a month earlier, is charged in a felony information with conspiracy.

Oct. 6: Montgomery appoints Minneapolis attorney Doug Kelley as a receiver to oversee the Petters companies, excluding Sun Country Airlines, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while it reorganizes its debts.

Oct. 8: White, Catain and Coleman all enter guilty pleas to crimes related to the Ponzi scheme. Petters, deemed a flight risk, is held in federal custody without bond.

Oct. 11: Kelley files Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions for Petters Co. Inc. and Petters Group Worldwide in St. Paul.

Oct. 23: Reynolds pleads guilty to money laundering conspiracy.

Dec. 1: Petters is indicted on 20 counts, including conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering. He later pleads not guilty.

Dec. 18: Polaroid Corp. files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

2009: Investigation and trial

April 17: Polaroid is sold to liquidators Hilco Consumer Capital of Toronto and Boston-based Gordon Brothers Brands for $85.9 million in cash and equity.

July 10: The Securities and Exchange Commission charges Illinois hedge fund manager Gregory Bell with fraud for allegedly helping Petters fool investors into believing their money was being used to buy electronics goods for resale. Bell, who ran Lancelot Investment Management, claimed that his investors lost $1.5 billion with Petters.

Oct. 29: The trial begins.

Nov. 23: Closing arguments take place, and the jurors begin deliberations.

Dec. 2: Petters is found guilty on 20 counts of fraud and money laundering.

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