Petters donated money to the University

Tom Petters, a Twin Cities businessman who has recently been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice, has donated money to the University of Minnesota in the past, as well as pledged to donate more. Petters Group Worldwide, Inc., a Minnetonka business owned by Petters, has given money as well as pledged to give money to the University as recently as August. In August, Petters Group made a pledge of $250,000 to Hanson Hall, Martha Douglas, University of Minnesota Foundation spokeswoman, said. Petters is accused of leading a $3 billion investment fraud scheme along with colleagues. Thursday, Larry Reynolds admitted in federal court to helping Petters in the scheme. Petters continues to maintain his innocence in the matter. Douglas said the pledge to Hanson Hall was at the point where it needed to be formalized, but that it never was. âÄúAt this point there is no pledge,âÄù Douglas said. âÄúIt was a pledge that was made but not received or booked.âÄù Three conference rooms on the second floor of Hanson Hall were also to be named after PettersâÄô business interests. One wouldâÄôve been named after Petters Group Worldwide, Inc., another after Polaroid, which is owned by Petters Group, and one after the John T. Petters Foundation, in honor of his son. âÄúThe decision was made, in light of recent events, to remove the names from Hanson Hall,âÄù Dan Wolter, University spokesman, said. Another gift of $25,000 was made in 2006 by Petters Group to the University China Center . âÄúThe gift was made in cash and paid,âÄù Douglas said. The money went to the China Center DirectorâÄôs Fund, a discretionary fund with multiple purposes, she said. Douglas said she âÄúimaginedâÄù that the gift had already been spent, and said the University would keep the money. âÄúItâÄôs an old gift; it wouldnâÄôt be returned,âÄù Douglas said. Jon Hopeman, PettersâÄô attorney , said he hadnâÄôt looked into his clientâÄôs donation history to the University yet and was unsure if he would in the future. Speaking on his clientâÄôs philanthropy, Hopeman said he knew Petters made extensive donations to universities as well served on boards at schools such as the University of Miami of Ohio and Rollins College, from which he has now resigned. While the University is keeping the donation it has received, other donations Petters made are being returned. Mark Drake, a spokesman for the Norm Coleman campaign, said in a statement the campaign would donate the $4,600 it received from Petters since 2003 to the Boys & Girls Club. Other politicians have said they would return or re-donate PettersâÄô donations including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, according to various news reports. Petters is ranked 21st on the list of major political donors to Minnesota campaigns and political action committees, according to the Star Tribune. In addition to donations at the University, Petters and Petters Group have also made numerous donations to other institutions around Minnesota. A donation of $1 million that was pledged to the Walker Art Center resulted in the naming of a library at the Walker in PettersâÄô name. Christopher Stevens, the chief of finance and development for the Walker, said while none of the money has been received yet for the T.J. Petters Family Library, the terms of the pledge didnâÄôt require Petters to pay any money by this time. âÄúFor the time being the name is on the library,âÄù Stevens said. âÄúWe have had no communications with Petters, and havenâÄôt discussed the situation yet. âÄúThere is no money yet to give back. WeâÄôre in a strange situation where he made a pledge and hasnâÄôt paid it yet, but it isnâÄôt yet delinquent either. ItâÄôs different from those he paid,âÄù Stevens said. Other universities that have received money from Petters are also feeling the effects of the recent charges. At Miami University of Ohio, Petters made a $10 million donation in honor of his son, John Petters, who died while attending Miami, General Counsel for the school Robin Parker said. Petters is halfway through his pledge, which required him to pay $1.25 million per year over eight years. To date, he has given $5 million to the John T. Petters Center for Leadership, Ethics, and Professional Skills Development, Parker said. The center is not yet up and running, she said. Parker declined to comment on whether the name of the center would be changed or on what would be done with the $5 million Petters already gave, but said, âÄúThe guyâÄôs in jail. IâÄôm not expecting a check.âÄù