The star witness in Tom Petters’ scheduled hearing next week for a shorter prison sentence — Petters himself — will be a little late.
Because of transportation scheduling issues, Petters won’t be able to attend the proceedings before U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle until Oct. 23.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons told court officials this week that it could not get Petters to the federal courthouse in St. Paul from his current location in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., in time for the originally scheduled hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The hearing represents an attempt by Petters to demonstrate that he was not sufficiently informed of a possible plea bargain offer that carried a 30-year prison sentence. At the trial, Petters was convicted on 20 counts of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Both his attorneys and federal prosecutors contend there never was a formal 30-year offer on the table and that Petters was dismissive in general of plea bargain discussions.
In a twist, Petters’ three defense attorneys and the private investigator they hired will be testifying against him on the matter.
According to the witness list supplied by Petters’ current attorney, Steve Meshbesher, Petters will testify on his own behalf. Other witness include attorney Shauna Kieffer, who did some of the early research in the Petters case file regarding possible plea bargain opportunities, and a brother and two sisters of Petters who brought the matter to Meshbesher’s attention earlier this year.
Petters has been in custody in one form or another since October 2008, shortly after the Ponzi scheme he and associates ran for a decade collapsed, leaving investors short $3.65 billion.