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Petters Goes Back To Court To Seek Less Prison Time

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) – Convicted Minnesota businessman Tom Petters returns to federal court this week to try to shorten his 50-year prison term.

The attempt to get 20 years removed might be Petters’ last chance to go after a lighter sentence.

Petters is set to take the stand Wednesday in St. Paul. The main witnesses against him at the hearing will be the attorneys who defended him during his 2009 jury trial.

He was convicted on 20 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

At the heart of the hearing is whether federal prosecutors offered Petters a plea deal with a sentence capped at 30 years, whether Petters’ attorneys relayed that offer to him, and whether he had an opportunity to accept it.

His defense team will argue that the plea deal was discussed on numerous occasions but was rejected each time.

Twin Cities attorney Joseph Friedberg says he doubts Petters will come out victorious.

“He had two of the finest lawyers in the county representing him, and I find it difficult to that either one would do such a thing,” Friedberg said. “But in addition to that, I doubt the government ever made an offer of 30 years.”

Friedberg says the motion to reduce the sentence could be considered “frivolous” by the judge, and his attorney could be sanctioned as a result.

Petters is expected to take the witness stand during the trial, which is expected to last two days.

Among those also expected to testify are Petters’ siblings.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 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 All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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