Former Polaroid Owner, Tom Petters, Sentenced to 50 Years for Ponzi Scheme

Former Polaroid Owner, Tom Petters, Sentenced to 50 Years for Ponzi Scheme


St. Paul, MN—Former Polaroid owner and founder of the Petters Group Worldwide, Tom Petters was sentenced to 50 years in prison by a federal judge for masterminding a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme that included hedge funds, pastors, missionaries and retirees among its victims.

“Every day, I’m filled with pain and anguish for all the lives that have been destroyed and touched by this episode,” Petters said at his sentencing hearing, apologizing to family, friends and coworkers. In December 2009, a jury convicted Petters on 20 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

Judge Richard H. Kyle of U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota said he did not believe Petters had been unaware of the fraud within the Petters Group Worldwide, as Petters had claimed, reported the AP.

While the defense stated a four-year sentence was sufficient punishment, prosecutors had argued that Petters deserved to be sentenced to the 335-year statutory maximum. In the end, Judge Kyle handed Petters, 52, the longest sentence ever given for a financial fraud case in Minnesota history.

Lawyers for Petters—who have maintained his innocence, claiming he did not know that the Petters Company was approached investors to finance the purchase of electronics merchandise that didn’t actually exist for resale to discount clubs and retailers—released a statement that read: “We are saddened by the verdict and sentence. There is no victory for anyone when a vibrant young man is placed into a prison cell for the balance of his days and nights.”

Petters’s aforementioned associates, who all pleaded guilty, have not yet been sentenced.