The Daily Caller reported last week that Klobuchar “helped keep a multibillion-dollar Ponzi schemer out of prison in the late 1990s when she was the County Attorney in Hennepin County, Minnesota.” The report also said Klobuchar had enough evidence to prosecute Tom Petters but declined to prosecute.
“Senator Klobuchar did not ask her county attorney staff or law enforcement to refrain from investigating or prosecuting Tom Petters,” Klobuchar campaign spokesman Linden Zakula said in a prepared statement. “She was not presented with evidence for prosecution of charges against him.”
Zakula released the statement after her Republican opponent, state Rep. Kurt Bills, criticized her for saying “no comment” to the initial story.
The Daily Caller story focuses on Petters, who was convicted of 20 felony counts including money laundering, conspiracy and fraud. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison for setting up a ponzi scheme that defrauded millions of dollars from investors.
In a statement released today, Bills also wanted to know why Klobuchar didn’t prosecute Petters in 1999, demanded to know where additional evidence went and why she contributed political contributions from Petters to charity instead of returning the money to the victims of Petters crimes.
“As our Senator, Amy Klobuchar has often called for accountability in others. It is time she provides her constituents with the same,” Bills said in a statement.
Zakula said Klobuchar first gave the donations from Petters to a charity but later returned
the additional money to the trustee for the victims after the investigation was concluded.
Klobuchar isn’t the only candidate linked to Petters. He gave to the Minnesota Republican Party, the DFL Party, former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar, former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Many of those politicians and parties gave the contributions to charity or gave the money back to those swindled by Petters.
Update: The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office released this statement about the case:
On April 22, 1998, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office filed a charge of Theft by Swindle over $35,000 against Richard Hettler. Later, he also was charged with a felony non-support of a child and defeating security on a personalty.
In January 1999, Hettler pleaded guilty to the theft by swindle and the felony non-support charges and the defeating security on personalty was dropped. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison in February 1999.
At no time was the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office presented by any law enforcement agency a case against Tom Petters.