Petters Blames Former Lawyer, Seeks New Sentence

Updated: 10/23/2013 12:34 PM By: Mark Albert

Having obtained a new attorney and blaming his old one, Tom Petters filed a motion Friday that seeks to throw out his 50-year fraud sentence, arguing he would have taken a deal for a significantly shorter sentence had he known about the prosecution's offer at the time.

The motion to vacate was filed in federal court by newly-retained attorney Steven Meshbesher, well known in Twin Cities legal circles. Meshbesher declined to comment on the filings when reached at his office.

The accompanying 11-page memorandum makes two main allegations: that Petters received "ineffective assistance of counsel" from the seasoned attorney who led his defense, Jon Hopeman, and that the sentence is "unconstitutionally cruel and unusual insofar as it is disproportionate to the crimes of conviction."

Hopeman "provided constitutionally deficient counsel when he failed to communicate a plea offer to Defendant Petters prior to trial," that would have called for a 30-year prison term, a sentence 40 percent shorter than the one handed down after Petters was convicted at trial in December 2009.

A jury found the well-known businessman guilty of orchestrating a multi-billion dollar fraud, the largest ever reported in Minnesota. Watch our previous coverage of this case below.

In response to a request for comment from 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Hopeman wrote in an email, "The lawyer who filed this never talked to me. No lawyer ever got my entire file on the Petters case. I wish Mr. Petters the best."

A spokesperson for the US Attorney's Office declined to comment on the Petters motion.

Petters, 55, is currently serving his sentence at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.