U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle is scheduled to sentence disgraced business tycoon Tom Petters Thursday morning in St. Paul.
Last December, jurors convicted Petters of running a scam that lasted more than a decade and ripped off investors for more than $3.5 billion.
Prosecutors argue Petters deserves the maximum sentence for breaking those laws -- 335 years. Petters' defense attorneys insist he's innocent and that he was betrayed by subordinates. They contend Petters should face about four years in jail, which would be proportionate to sentences received by people convicted of leading bigger frauds.
Federal sentencing guidelines also call for a life sentence for the 52-year-old Petters, but Former federal prosecutor Hank Shea said the guidelines are just one factor Judge Richard Kyle will consider.
"This judge will be mindful of the public's view on crime and sentencing," Shea said. "He will certainly be mindful of the lawyers' arguments on both sides, but ultimately it comes down to his decision about what justice requires."
Shea said the judge should send a message that white-collar crimes like Petters' will be severely punished.
The defense is also seeking leniency for Petters, claiming he has a pituitary tumor that could blind or paralyze him. But federal prosecutors complain they've been denied access to Petter's doctor and say the threat to his health may be exaggerated.