Whistleblower testifies at fraud trial that investor checks at Petters funded employee bonuses

By Steve Karnowski, AP
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Witness: Investor checks at Petters funded bonuses

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A key aide to a businessman accused of a multibillion-dollar fraud says investors who thought their money was going toward merchandise sales were funding millions in employee bonuses.

Whistleblower Deanna Coleman was testifying Tuesday in the fraud trial of Minnesota businessman Tom Petters, who is accused of operating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Coleman was vice president of operations at Petters Co. Inc. She says dozens of bonus checks Petters paid to top employees in 2006 and 2007 were worth millions of dollars and drawn on the account of PCI, which prosecutors say was at the heart of the alleged scheme.

Petters is charged with 20 fraud-related counts. His attorney says he’s innocent and that Coleman and others carried out the scheme without Petters’ knowledge.

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