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4 More Charges For Petters Associate; Total Now 28

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MINNESOTA (WCCO/AP) – The former associate of disgraced Minnesota businessman Tom Petters now faces additional federal charges in connection with Petter’s $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

A second superseding indictment has been filed against Frank Vennes Jr., 53, of Stuart, Fla. A year ago, a revised indictment added a number of charges to his original indictment.

In addition to the 24 counts from last year’s indictment, Vennes now faces three new counts of wire fraud and one new count of mail fraud, bringing the total number of counts up to 28.

According to the previous indictment, prosecutors alleged 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.

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.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota, the second superseding indictment addresses allegations that Vennes tried to raise funds to invest in Petters’ company through a third-party agent in 2007 and 2008.

If he’s convicted, Vennes could face up to 20 years in prison on each of his three counts of mail fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, three counts of bank fraud, and two counts of making false statements. He could also face up to 10 years on each of his three counts of money laundering, as well as five years on his eight counts of securities fraud.

Petters was convicted in 2009 and is serving a 50-year prison sentence.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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