MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Frank Elroy Vennes Jr. was sentenced to 180 months in prison on Friday, in connection with fraudulently raising money through hedge funds for investment in Petters Company.

Vennes was a long-time associate of Thomas J. Petters, the Minnesota businessman convicted in 2009 of orchestrating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Venne, 56, of Stuart, Fla., was sentenced on one count of securities fraud and one count of money laundering.

From 1995 through 2008, Vennees, individually and through his occupancy, Metro Gem, obtained money from others for investment in PCI notes. Beginning in 2001 and through 2008, he aided and abetted individuals associated with Arrowhead Funds in making fraudulent misrepresentations to investors regarding investments in PCI, which was owned and operated by Petters.

Purportedly, PCI would resell that merchandise for a profit to certain “big box” retailers, including Sam’s Club and Costco. However, no merchandise was bought or resold. Instead, Petters diverted hundreds of millions of dollars for his own benefit and the benefit of his co-conspirators.