Raise your hand if you’re the one surprised at the guilty verdict(s) in the Tom Petters trial? The decision came down late Wednesday afternoon, and considering the intensity of the coverage, everyone in town, and quite a few from out of town were on it like the proverbial cheap suit. The Strib story, by Dave Phelps and Liz Fedor, is essentially a re-cap of the case with a few reaction quotes. Of interest is the jury foreman saying that the e-mails, going back years, were more significant in the jury’s thinking than the notorious secret recordings of Petters conceding that “it’s all a big [expletive] fraud,” which was always a bit of an obstacle for the defense. The PiPress story is pretty much a carbon copy … with a timeline graph. Ditto MPR, sans timeline.
The Wall Street Journal offers mainly a review as well. It does add that of all of Petters assets that might be sold to reimburse investors (and what those shrewd investors were really thinking as they eyeballed Petters’ operation has always been as nearly as interesting a story as his preposterous fraud) only the Polaroid holdings have produced any significant cash. The story suggests only $200 million has been recovered to date.
Forbes takes the angle that the conviction is a big plus for the Justice Department as it goes after a rogues’ parade of super-entrepreneurs now under indictment. Petters, the story says, is especially significant to them after failing to get a guilty verdict in the New York trial of two Bear Stearns big-wigs last month. “The criminal case against Petters was widely seen as incredibly strong and easy to win,” says Forbes, who links readers to its November ’08 story about Petters’, um, “investors,” like the Lancelot crowd in Chicago. Lancelot crashed after Petters was arrested and Forbes wondered last year if Lancelot’s Gregory Bell and some other hedge fund managers could possibly be as witless as they then claimed to be. Anyone care to rush to judgment on that one?
KSTP-TV’s Jennifer Griswold interviews an attorney representing Petters’ smaller-bore investors, many people from local “faith communities”) — a community also allegedly scammed by the Pat Kiley-Trevor Cook operation, and to some extent, a bit like Bernie Madoff working the local Jewish community. Says the attorney, “There was this confidence that Tom Petters was one of us and he cared for the faith community and if we’re careful, led good lives, if we invest carefully, we’ll be safe.” If by “confidence” we’re really talking “blind faith,” one end of the Ponzi problem seems evident.
For the truly obsessive Petters-o-philes, WCCO TV has a complete break down of each count of the case, and, if you click over to reporter Esme Murphy’s blog, you’ll get the story of her wandering around Wayzata on a child errand, getting turned around and ending up, entirely by coincidence she says, in … Tom Petters’ driveway. She reports the asking price on this mansion … not to be confused with his Florida mansion — has been dropped to $6.25 million. And $68,000 a year in taxes.
The Strib editorial page, usually silent on all provocative public matters until a final decision has been rendered and all risk eliminated (see: Coleman v Franken) boldly declares this morning that Ponzi schemes are bad for all involved. It does say, “Petters drew on his relationships with prominent Twin Cities businesspeople, luring sophisticated investors whose due diligence was based on trust and friendships instead of basic research.” Maybe the investigative staff could root out a few of these “prominent” victims for the life lessons they’ve learned.
Tim Walz has another GOP challenger down in the 1st District. It’s Jim Hagedorn, son of former Cong. Tom Hagedorn. The younger version is also a blogger, “Mr. Conservative”, which as Paul Schmelzer at the Minnesota Independent points out could be a problem for him, assuming he gets full support from the conservative fringes.
Schmelzer, working from some grunt work done by another blogger, this one a lefty, Bluestem Prairie, notes the number of times Hagedorn has scrubbed his blog of garden variety talk-radio “humor” and hyperbole. For example, Hagedorn’s deep thoughts on the crowd at the Wellstone memorial in 2002: “About the memorial service. Was it just me or did it not seem as if someone bailed out the union thugs; tree huggers; abortion rights feminists; peaceniks; citizens for gay animal rights; NAMBLA members and the other Marxist sympathizers who protested at last month’s IMF meetings, and transported them to Wellstone’s memorial in a slew of green busses? Talk about lefties all in one convenient location. Hopefully after the ceremony they fumigated the arena.”
Or how about his breakdown of likely voting “irregularities” in John Thune’s ’02 Senate race in South Dakota. “Voter backlash against the Democrat’s (typical) election-stealing maneuvers will be the margin of victory for Thune. Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.” Classy stuff, although high octane for his base.
Bob Dylan and Prince picked up Grammy nominations. Bob — no, not for his Christmas album — but for his “Together Through Life” CD, in the Best Americana category, and Prince for his song “Dreamer.” Here’s the PiPress note.
Sports fans owe it to themselves to spend seven minutes on the Strib site with Jim Souhan and Pat Reusse’s “Unsportsmanlike Comment” this morning. Among gems is Reusse still refusing to hop on the Brett Favre bandwagon, (No. 4 began his fade with the Jets last year in week 12), dissing Adrian Peterson in comparison with Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, calling Tiger Woods a “sissy” for not showing up at his own golf tournament this week after his, uh, “incident” —- which Patrick thinks might have been explained as simply as Tiger getting up at 2:25 a.m. to get to Wal-Mart for the doorbuster special on tube socks. Pretty funny.