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Petters’ Associate Vennes Pleads Guilty

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former associate of convicted Minnesota businessman Tom Petters has pleaded guilty to lying to investors in a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Fifty-five-year-old Frank Vennes Jr. of Stuart, Fla., pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to fraudulently raising money from individuals and through hedge funds for investment in Petters Co. Inc.

Vennes specifically pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of money laundering.

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.

Sentencing for Vennes has not been scheduled yet.

Petters was convicted in 2009 of orchestrating the Ponzi scheme and is serving a 50-year prison sentence.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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