Petters blames top associates for alleged scheme

Tom Petters is putting the blame on top associates for the fraud at Petters Co. Inc.

Deanna Coleman and Bob White were vice presidents at PCI - the company the government says was at the heart of a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $3.65 billion.

Petters testified Wednesday he did a large number of legitimate merchandise deals with PCI in the 1990s. But then his involvement with PCI waned and Coleman and White took on greater roles.

He says he wanted to sell off PCI, but Coleman and White stood in his way. He says some of PCI's deals were so troublesome they scared the "bejesus" out of him.

Petters grew emotional on the stand this morning, as he talked about the murder of his son in Italy in 2004.

He says that he spent little time with PCI before the murder and virtually none after it. Instead, he says, he dedicated himself to charitable work.

Petters faces 20 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and money-laundering. Coleman and White have admitted to forging documents and have pleaded guilty.

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