, Sherburne County
Trevor Cook's words leave the judge unmoved
- Article by: DAN BROWNING
- Star Tribune
- September 29, 2010 - 10:37 PM
Convicted Ponzi schemer Trevor Cook testified under oath for nearly two hours Wednesday about overseas bank accounts, wire transfers, offshore business entities and a number of his former business partners and associates, hoping to persuade a federal judge to clear a contempt finding that has kept him in the Sherburne County Jail since late January.
William Mauzy, Cook's attorney, said he just wants to start serving the 25-year prison term he got handed on April 13. But that sentence won't begin until Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis purges his finding of contempt, which he imposed after learning that Cook had defied his orders to turn over assets.
Davis said Cook would have to do a lot more than he's done so far to lift the contempt finding.
At the hearing, Mauzy took Cook line by line through a government summary of financial transactions related to the $190 million fraud scheme that he ran. He had Cook explain what he's done to help recover cash and other valuables. Mauzy said Cook has met a dozen times with various groups of federal regulators, criminal investigators and attorneys with a court-appointed receivership rounding up assets.
He has answered every question put to him, Mauzy said. "There's nothing more that Mr. Cook can do."
Federal regulators and a lawyer with the receivership strongly disagreed. They argued that nearly everything Cook claims to have produced thus far was actually turned up by investigators or turned over after he failed a lie detector test. Under cross-examination, Cook admitted that he has lied to investors, regulators and investigators before.
Cook shouldn't be released until he provides documentary proof to back up what he says, they argued, and he hasn't provided it.
Davis noted that Cook is scheduled to meet with authorities again for two full days in early October. "Are you saying the meeting Oct. 5 and 6 is useless?" he prodded Mauzy. "You've now said enough is enough, there's nothing more that he can answer. Shouldn't we wait until after that meeting?"
"I suppose the answer to that is yes, your honor," Mauzy said, prompting a round of chuckles.
Davis told Cook that to purge his contempt, he would have to do more than be "an artful dodger" of the government's questions and actually help the investigators. "You are going to have to do a lot more than you have done so far," Davis said.
"You know where the accounts are. You're too bright of a person to have carried out a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme to not now have the memory," he said.
Davis said he should tell his attorney and government lawyers what banking or business records he will need to substantiate his version of events so they can bring them to the October interviews.
Several former employees and investors who attended the hearing said they found Cook's testimony interesting, especially his descriptions of overseas accounts that he said were controlled by former associates or partners.
For instance, Cook said several times that Pat Kiley, a radio talk-show host who solicited investors, had wired money to certain accounts, often at Cook's direction but also on his own. Kiley has said that he never wired money and wouldn't know how.
Cook said that he couldn't answer certain questions about some accounts because they were controlled by one or more of his former business partners, Jason (Bo) Beckman and Christopher Pettengill of Plymouth, and Gerald Durand of Faribault.
Dan Browning • 612-673-4493
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