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Associated Press, Published December 09 2011

Appeals court affirms Petters conviction, sentence

ST. PAUL (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the 2009 conviction and 50-year prison sentence of Tom Petters.

The Minnesota businessman was found guilty of orchestrating a $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Petters got a fair trial.

A three-judge panel rejected claims that the trial judge prevented his attorneys from presenting a complete defense by restricting their ability to question a key prosecution witness about his links to organized crime. The panel also says the judge acted properly when he rejected proposed jury instructions to highlight Petters' claims he was an unwitting participant in a fraud conceived by others, and that he acted on advice from his attorney.

And it says the judge did not err by denying a change in venue.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.