MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than seven years after the financial collapse of one Minnesota’s most powerful businessmen, victims are still waiting for money.

Tom Petters is serving a 50-year prison sentence as the mastermind of the $3 billion Ponzi scheme. The corporate bankruptcy case has hundreds of people waiting for payouts.

WCCO found the case could finally come to a close soon.

By that September in 2008, Britt Moore had been Customer Service Manager at Polaroid for a few years. The FBI raid of the business owned by Tom Petters, would throw his life into turmoil long after.

“Six years later still nothing has happened,” Moore said.

Moore worked at Polaroid for the eight months that followed, the job market difficult for anyone during that time. But, between severance and vacation pay from Polaroid, Moore is still owed money

“About $8,100,” Moore said.

So what’s taking so long? John Stoebner is the Polaroid bankruptcy trustee.

“The main thing is there’s some very large lawsuits that are still pending,” Stoebner said.

Stoebner calls it a life-changing case for his Minneapolis firm — the largest bankruptcy in Minnesota history.

“I’ve had dealings in India, Hungary, China [and] Japan,” he said.

Stoebner is handling nearly 500 claims, seeking anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several million. He’s still in court at least twice a month sorting it all out.

Stoebner believes if two large lawsuits are successful, former employees of Petters should be paid by summer.

“I expect to see a lot of progress within the next year,” Stoebner said.

“We always knew Tom was looking for a deal but we didn’t think it was subversive or illegal,” Moore said.

Welcome news for those like Moore, still waiting for assurance that the process works. John Stoebner’s final report has to first be approved by the U.S. Trustees Office.

Then, it’s submitted for approval to a bankruptcy court– once that happens checks can be issued. Again, he thinks that’s on track to happen sometime this summer.

Liz Collin

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