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4 Face Ponzi Sentencing In Minn. Federal Court
Thursday, January 03, 2013      3 Comments

By David Chanen, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Jan. 03--Four men are scheduled to be sentenced in aMinneapolisfederal court Thursday for their roles in the state's second-largest Ponzi scheme.

But before that, the case will take another dramatic turn when prosecutors seek to present evidence of an alleged murder plot against one of the defendants, and two of the defendants argue that the late disclosure of the alleged plot warrants a new trial.

The$194 millionPonzi scheme bilked more than 700 investors nationwide, mostly retirees. It was run byTrevor Cook, aBurnsvillemoney manager who is serving a 25-year prison term.

The four men facing sentencing Thursday were Cook's key operatives:Jason "Bo" Beckman,Gerald Durand,Patrick KileyandChristopher Pettengill.

Last week, the U.S. attorney's office filed a surprise motion to hold a hearing before the sentences are handed down to present their evidence about a plot to murder Beckman. The motion said Durand proposed to Pettengill that they have Beckman killed in order to collect and split the proceeds of his$2.5 millionlife insurance policy.

Durand's attorney,Brian Toder, responded by filing his own motion asking Chief U.S. District JudgeMichael Davisto deny the hearing, but the judge has agreed to it. Toder said the hearing gives Pettengill, who testified for the prosecution, one more chance to tell lies, which he says he did frequently throughout his trial.

Court records show that prosecutors knew about the alleged plot for quite some time but failed to turn overFBIinterview notes to defense attorneys untilDec. 28. Prosecutors chalk up the failure to human error, noting that they turned over more than 7 terabytes of computer evidence. In court filings, they argue that the error does not warrant a new trial because the alleged murder plot was not relevant to the fraud scheme.

Attorneys for Beckman and Durand argued in court filings that the failure was significant and might have resulted in a different outcome, on at least some charges.

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