ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A federal appeals court has scheduled oral arguments for Feb. 17 in the Tom Petters case.

The Wayzata businessman was accused of running a $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme. A jury convicted Petters in 2009 on 20 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. A judge sentenced to him 50 years in prison.

Petters’ attorneys contend they were not allowed to present the jury with full evidence about a key prosecution witness, Larry Reynolds. He’s a convicted felon and disbarred lawyer who was in the witness protection program. The defense claims Reynolds masterminded the fraud within Petters’ company, without Petters’ knowledge.

But prosecutors say the evidence against Petters was overwhelming.

A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case in St. Paul.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)