The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 2, 2009

Local Petters juror says it was all worth it

William Hickok glad to go back to regular routine

NORTH MANKATO — William Hickok can finally speak freely.

For weeks the auto parts manager has been under a court order to remain mum about his work serving as a juror for the Tom Petters fraud trial. That ended Wednesday after he joined fellow jurors in finding Petters guilty of using a Ponzi scheme to steal $3.5 billion from investors.

Now there’s a pile of work waiting for Hickok at his real job. He’s left 4,100 miles worth of tire tread between his home in North Mankato and the federal courthouse in St. Paul. And there’s a mountain of family time owed to his wife and two kids.

But it’s all been worth the experience of having a first-hand role in a high-profile trial, he said.

“This case had everything you’d see in a big screen movie,” Hickok said. “It had all the players, all the big-name businessmen out of Minneapolis.”

Hickok has spent the past several days deciding Petters’ fate as he and the other jurors deliberated. It was a job he took seriously, knowing Petters could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The jury had already spent weeks listening to testimony. There were hundreds of text messages, hours of recordings from hidden wires and stacks of documents to pore through.

The indictment alone — which included 20 federal charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy — was 49 pages. Jurors went through each count and considered evidence from both sides before deciding whether Petters should be found guilty.

“After the first day, we’d only made it through one count,” Hickok said. “We wanted to make sure we did our due diligence.”

The documents led to Petters’ demise, Hickok said. There were several large rolling carts, similar to the carts shoppers can use at Sam’s Club, piled high with plastic containers full of evidence.

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