Petters’ Associate Vennes Faces Additional Charges
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former associate of fallen Minnesota businessman Tom Petters faces new allegations of securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering for his alleged role in a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme, according to a superseding indictment filed Tuesday.
The new indictment charges Frank Vennes Jr., 53, of Stuart, Fla., with 24 counts. He was originally charged with five counts in April.
Defense attorney James Volling said the indictment contains “some serious inaccuracies” and that Vennes’ lawyers plan to vigorously defend him.
According to prosecutors, Vennes fraudulently raised money for promissory notes that investors were told would finance the purchase of merchandise to be resold at a profit. But the purchases didn’t happen and the money went to Petters.
Prosecutors allege that by from 1999 through September 2008, Vennes engaged in 748 transactions involving hundreds of millions of dollars, and from 2001 through 2008, Vennes made more than $140 million through investments and commissions.
Vennes allegedly used his company, Metro Gem, to raise money from investors.
The indictment also charges another man, James Fry, 57, of Orono, with nine counts of fraud and three counts of making false statements for his alleged role in the scheme. Prosecutors said Fry’s company, Arrowhead Capital Management LLC, acted as an adviser to hedge funds that invested in the scheme.
A phone number for Fry could not be found Tuesday, and his attorneys in a civil case did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Petters was convicted in 2009 and is serving a 50-year prison sentence.
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