It’s been many years since disgraced Minnesota businessman Tom Petters has been a fixture in the headlines. But the legal proceedings resulting from his Ponzi scheme and related cases are only now winding down.
Petters was found guilty in 2009 of orchestrating a nearly $3.8 billion Ponzi scheme. That preceded a flurry of litigation that involved numerous local and national firms, with Lindquist & Vennum leading the way. A Chapter 11 Plan of Liquidation was approved by bankruptcy judges last spring.
“Getting the liquidation confirmed was the last major piece,” said Lindquist attorney James Lodoen. “The representatives of the liquidating trust have involved other lawyers in pursuing some litigation, and we’ve helped them.”
Working with Lodoen on the eight-year legal odyssey were attorneys Daryle Uphoff, George Singer, Michael Olafson, Mark Larsen, Kirstin Kanski, Jeff Smith, Adam Ballinger, Mark Enslin and Douglas Kelley. A former assistant U.S. attorney, Kelley played a key role, serving as the court-appointed receiver and, with Lindquist’s help, filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases for Petters Company Inc., Petters Group Worldwide and eight affiliated entities.
“We stepped into this mess at a time when basically all the officers had resigned and weren’t talking,” said Lodoen. “There weren’t a lot of people available. We worked with PriceWaterhouseCoopers to sort through it and get our arms around the factual background. From there we developed a plan about how assets could be sold and claims could be pursued.”
As the Chapter 11 trustee for the bankruptcy cases, Kelley and Lindquist also filed Chapter 11 petitions for Polaroid Corp., which Petters owned, and nine affiliated entities.
“It was gratifying to quickly move Polaroid’s assets and intellectual property and get that cash in the door,” said Lodoen. “We then converted Polaroid to a Chapter 7 and another trustee was appointed to liquidate that cash and get it to creditors.”
As gratifying as the outcome was for the attorneys involved, Lodoen said the team is ready for the Petters case to wind down.
“It was a big part of our lives for eight years, but there’s always another case around the corner,” he said. “You just move on to the next thing.”