Attorney for Tom Petters argues for shorter sentence

ST. PAUL -- A new lawyer for Tom Petters said the disgraced businessman's prison sentence should be shortened because the original defense lawyer never told Petters about a plea bargain offer.

In 2009, Petters was found guilty of orchestrating a $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme, after a trial in which he took the stand to persuade the jury of his innocence. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Attorney Steven Meshbesher said federal prosecutors had been willing to agree to a 30-year maximum sentence in exchange for Petters' guilty plea. Meshbesher said Petters' former attorney, Jon Hopeman, choose not to pass along the offer to his client. Meshbesher says Petters would have accepted a 30-year deal if he had known about it.

The court filing seeking a new sentencing hearing said Hopeman told another lawyer at the time the plea offer was not respectable. Hopeman said Meshbesher never spoke to him and no lawyer ever requested Hopeman's entire file on the Petter's case.

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