News Commentary: Mr. Frank Vennes Jr. Indicted- An Exposed Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

         Soon after this blog was started the Tom Petters ponzi scheme was exposed.  One of the individuals involved in the scheme was Frank Vennes Jr. a professed evangelical who had ties to Teen Challenge, a prison ministry called Charis, and Northwestern College in Minnesota.  The initial article[i] called Mr. Vennes Jr. to task for being a wolf in sheeps clothing and those who knew and supported Mr. Vennes confronted this writer for jumping to conclusions and passing judgment without facts on Mr. Vennes. I recognized that my initial response did come from some anger, but the anger was related to what appeared to be blatant deceit.  The anger was recognized leading to a published apology.[ii] In January of 2010, this writer wondered what did Mr. Vennes actually know and commented about how we all need to stand for truth[iii]. See Mr. Vennes friends and voraciously defended the man and his reputation that doubt was caught on the initial impressions and anger.  It turns out the impression and anger was righteous and justified.

            His friends pointed out the fact that Mr. Vennes was not indicted no did he seem the target of the investigation.  It was that one fact that led to questions. Well, now there are questions no more.  As. Mr. Vennes has now been indicted. Apparently his finances had long ago been seized in relation to the fraud.  Sure, an indictment is not “proof” but the points of the initial articles were relevant and on target. See the question was always whether Mr. Vennes was a man conned, or an integral part of the con.  The current allegations point to his being an integral part of the con.  The Star Tribune article[iv] states that Mr. Vennes is on tape stating the empty warehouses will cause the scheme to “implode” and that the whole thing is “a little paper manufacturing plant.”

            See this shows appearance can be deceiving.  It illustrates that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. If you think you know a person, even had his deep faults confessed, he still can be seeking after that which is crooked and deceiving.  And Mr. Vennes is not really any different that any of us.  Each of us are capable of deceit and betrayal.

            In retrospect, there are lessons to be learned. While caution is always in order, there is righteous judgment and discernment.  The truth can be known without evidence of all the facts. Mr. Vennes is alleged to have actively conned others, and this writer believes that to be true.  He put both Teen Challenge and Northwestern College in positions that impacted them and threatened their existence. The root of the actions and deception was all in order for a handful of people to make a lot of money.

            Another point is no matter how well hidden things seem to be, sooner or later all the deeds in darkness will be exposed. Some, like the Petters scheme will be exposed in this life time before all. But when Jesus returns, every little evil will be brought into open. Nothing hidden! 

            It is also worth noting how easily any of us can be if we operate based on experience.  We think we can know a person, view their actions and conclude they are seeking after pure motives. Yet, there are many like Mr. Vennes or Ananias and Sapphira, or Judas that more is going on then the initial experience. With the disciples, none but Jesus knew what was in his heart, even when he left the last supper, pointed out as a betrayer, the disciples see were unaware of the darkness in his heart. He followed Jesus.  It is due to revelation of the Holy Spirit that Ananias and Sapphira were exposed and brought to death.  Some think that God is cruel for such actions. But it is that deep deception, the deceitful appearance and heart that God knows impacts and corrupts many. Their death was an act of love and righteous wrath. Now, I hope and pray that Mr. Vennes is not like Judas or Annanias and Sapphira. It is not too late for true repentance. However, the man has conned many for a long time and the veracity of anything coming from the man will need to be questioned.  For it is not the appearance of good works that is the fruit of repentance, it is true surrender to Jesus. Mr. Vennes faked it fooling many, but He has been exposed. The story serves as an example for all.  And if there are friends who still seek to defend the man, take it up with the creator, for Mr. Vennes in my mind is a deceiver and wolf in sheeps clothing that fooled many.

15 Responses

  1. Thanks Tim for these insights. Something we need to keep praying about for a “pure heart” moving forward with Kingdom Pathways.

  2. Having read both your original post and this one, I wonder if your apology was ever warranted. Those who criticized your were either blinded to the truth or never took time to seek the truth.

    It is notable that one of the comments to your original post was (in part) “Read the indictment, in vennes’s own words-we are a paper mill–we will go down together etc etc
    these are from phone taps and wire taps…”

    Any person who was looking for the truth in 2008 had it at their fingertips. It will be interesting to see if any of those who were critical in 2008 will be able to see the truth in 2011.

    Both this post and the original show that you have a pure heart. God bless you.

  3. Yes, Steve, very true. Have learned a lot since then. God did show me something in the process at the time, and looking back learned even more. It is always a growing process. We always need to start with self, while there was truth in what was said, and it was observed, we can let the truth get clouded. I don’t remember what led me to the decision at the time, but there was reason for it. I would really be interested to see if any of his friends make a reappearance. I tend to doubt it at this point. But the comment you quoted in 1st article I don’t even recall. It just shows at that point, the arguements from experience can be convincing and deceptive. For the arguements from experience will come from the well meaning.

  4. I am one of those friends you doubted would reappear. Once you apologized openly to Frank. it would appear that true repentance is something you know lottle about peacebringer.

    peacebringer? Interesting name for someone to use who seems to find so much enjoyment in crucifying Frank before guilt or innocence has be rendered. I thought we still lived in a county where we we innocent…until proven guilty. I was under the impression that an indictment did not equal guilt. That is I suppose unless you are a Pharisees or Sadducees.

    When you read the verses…Judge not, that ye be not judged.For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time–before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. How can you say ” The truth can be known without evidence of all the facts? ” I have a modest suggestion. Why don’t you simply take a pair of sissors, and cut them out of your bible. They obvously mean nothing to you.

    So I said this once to you. And I will say it again. Shame on you. I pray God shows you more mercy for all you have done, then you’re are willing to show Frank, or any others.

  5. The Bible also says to engage in Righteous judgment. Let me ask you this, what do those verses mean together. yes, in this country one is considered innocent before being proven guilty. Generally an indictment does not look at guilt. But let us look at facts r/t to a federal indictment. most federal indictments are found guilty. Because of the grand jury system seldom does anyone go to court without a lot of evidence. You had previously suggested that there was a reason “Frank” had not been indicted, claiming he perhaps had been a victim as well. Rather, we have evidence of the contray and even did at that time.

    let me ask you this, if someone is defrauding others by means of say the “prosperity gospel” are we not to judge that? For those engaging in false signs and wonders and conning man say like a Todd Bentley, are we not to judge that? Were not Annaias and Shappria questioned, and the Holy Spirit judged them? You ask about my repentance, where is the true repentance of Frank when he said the things he is on record of saying? Do you stand by all that the man did regardless? You express a lot of anger, over folks in the “Church body” finding what has happened a matter worth commenting on, and being evidence of deception. Do you not have any anger r/t Frank? Do you seriously think Frank is being framed or railroaded here? Or is it perhaps your friend as truly committed wrong? Now, for Frank sake, eternally if he truly has a heart of surrender to God, this does not effect him eternally. I don’t know his heart nor make any comments about his standing before God. The bible does state “if we are faithless he remains faithful for he cannot disown himself.” Yet, that does not mean we do not face the consequences or out actions. Nor are we to self-determine was is right and wrong. Frank is alleged and appears guilty of a high level of fraud as a willing participant. Any reason I should think otherwise? Can you please deleanate how it is not “righteous judgment.”

  6. Terry how did that koolaid taste my friend?

    Peacebringer is a Christian and understand that there is a higher standard that a court of law.

    Read what has been written and you will see that he has already admitted his guilt.

  7. By he I mean Vennes.

  8. It amazes me that you always assume I am speaking out of anger. My guess would be you can only hear through the heart of a man who’s heart is filled with anger. Which would also explain your willingness to prejudge, and precondemn Frank even before he has his day in court. How sad. How truely sad.

    Yes let’s look at the facts. You know or claim to know only what the papers say. You have never talked with Frank face to face. Man to man. That would take courage. Something you seem to lack because the facts say, you would rather spend your time preparing the cross you have already made your mind up crusify him on. Or maybe your too busy stock piling the stones you will need to throw. Facts…did you go to him one on one as God’s words says? No. Did you go to him with a witness as God’s word says? No. did you take him before the church as the bible says? NO. So in essence there is no righteous judgement you have even tried to follow.

    Righteous judgement was not and is still not your goal.Have you prayed for Frank and his family? Or have you been too busy delcairing your righteous judgements? You go so far as to call him Judas.Proclaiming him as guilty as the one who betrayed our Lord, and you do it in the public domain.So be it. May I ask what you entend on spending your thirty pieces of silver on?

    “Rather, we have evidence of the contray and even did at that time.” And that would mean you peacebringer have personally sat down and read the entire file, along with all the evidence they will bring against Frank? A simply yes or no would be ok with me. You have been Privileged enough to have sat in on the discussions with the state looked at, read and examined all the evidence…first hand? A yes or no will do. let me take a leap of faith here….no to both questions.

    I spoke to Frank just last night. What we spoke of I will keep to myself, but as a man who believes in Justice I will let Frank have his day in court. Those are the freedoms I served this country to protect. I would even do the same for you peacebringer.

    Mr. Steve. “How did the koolaid taste” How cleaver. Do they hand out awards for childish remarks in your neck of the woods? Yes there is a higher standard.And when I see you, or peacebringer being crusified for my sins I just might listen to what you have to say. But as it is…I have a Saviour already and his name is JESUS.

  9. Perhaps sir, you don’t recognize your own anger. I would have to go look at the previous dialogue to see if I did. Now you going on to suggest that I perceive anger in your words because I am a person with an angry heart and see things through anger. Interesting take, but far from the truth. It seems that certain words or phrases you read cause reaction, you perceive your friend being threatened and stand in the gap and defend against anyone speaking concern over Frank’s actions and choices. See, one thing that does anger me though, is people being deceived. What angers me is people appearing one way and then at heart something else is going on.

    With your friend there are only 2 options. Either he was a willing participant in the fraud, or he was deceived as well. You have suggested he was deceived, contrary to reports and the indictment. If that is the case, I sure hope he has evidence to the contrary and if he ends up proving such, great. He knows the truth at heart. I am well aware that media reports do not paint the whole truth and only have a piece of puzzle. I do believe Mr. Vennes actively participated in deception, and I find that abhorent.

    Now I did not directly call Mr. Vennes Judas or Anninias, but I see parallels. Parallells with Judas, as if allegations are true it is betraying others for personal gain. If like Anniasis, it was fraudlent reputation of creating an appearance that was not in line with truth, for the truth was really focus on self.

    Glad to hear you are talking to Frank. Hope you have had stark and honest conversations with him regarding matters and point him to true repentance.

    You chastize me for not talking one on one with frank. Fact is I don’t have a relationship with Frank. I am not invovled with his congregation. I have no way to talk to frank personally. Now perhaps if you or he wants to dialogue with me I am fairly easy to get a hold of, so please let me know. See this is “New COmmentary” about issues and news within the public domain and how it impacts each of us in the church at large. That was the inital motive and still remains is a call to follow Jesus and not self, and yes involves being blunt about deception.

    Ultimately, it is between Frank and God. Courts get thigns wrong. If he cannot prove that he was not a willing participant in the fraud, then will you state lack of justice and they just wouldn’t listen. WOuld it okay to share what I think then?

  10. Peacebringer~ “If he cannot prove that he was not a willing participant in the fraud, then will you state lack of justice and they just wouldn’t listen. WOuld it okay to share what I think then?”

    Peacebringer it is doubtful that whatever you say will ever be acceptable to be shared, unless, Terry first approves your text of course.

    My guess is even if his dear friend is found guilty, it will then be the judge who is a fault, the jury was duped, witnesses lied, or the evidence was tainted. Terry am I wrong? Will you accept the courts decision? I say this and ask this because Terry has shown, by the type of questions that he has pounded you with, that he is incredibly unreasonably.(As you have seen and recognized)

    For an example of Terry’s lack of of reason lets look at his statement, “Facts…did you go to him one on one as God’s words says? No. Did you go to him with a witness as God’s word says? No. did you take him before the church as the bible says?” Well, any one who has a relationship with Vennes knows that you do not attend his church nor do you have his ear. (as you pointed out) So it seems that Terry is trying attack your character because you did not do the impossible. I would like to point out that you based your opinions and your post about Terry’s associate on public information and a legal Justice Department indictment, whiles Terry has based his opinions about you on……well only on his personal feelings toward the indicted.

    Which brings me to this point. Peacebringer I do disagree with you on one point. I do not think Terry is writing from anger, to the contrary I believe we are seeing his passion. It’s clear that Terry is overly influenced by his personal feelings and is having trouble considering and representing the facts of this case. I wonder Terry if you did any of the things that you accused Peacebringer of not doing? Do you possess the lack of bias it would take for you to even see the need?

    We do not get rewarded here, in my part of the country for our clever remarks but we are rewarded for our objectivity, a reward you do not seem destined to receive. (An observation that causes me to wonder what flavor the koolaid is.)

    BTW Terry, having been in numerous, sometimes heated disagreements with Peacebringer I can answer the question of whether he has prayed for the involved parties or not. He has and that he has prayed for you as well. I also served my country to protect our freedoms of speech and I would like to thank you, Peacebringer, for respectfully exercising that freedom.

    One other BTW Terry. You wrote, “You know or claim to know only what the papers say.” Having done your due diligence I’m certain you knew that the full indictment is public information and it is very clear on the points that it makes. Have you bothered reading it?

    Perhaps when you speak to Frank again you’ll take a copy with you and question him on it. It would helpful to you as you decide what your scriptural responsibilities are.

  11. Source-

    MINNEAPOLIS—Three Florida men—a business associate of Thomas J. Petters and two hedge fund managers—were indicted today in federal court in Minneapolis for fraudulently marketing a hedge fund’s investments in Petters Company, Inc. (“PCI”). Frank E. Vennes, age 53, of Stuart, Florida; David W. Harrold, age 51, of Del Ray Beach, Florida; and Bruce F. Prevost, age 51, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, were charged with four counts of securities fraud in relation to this alleged crime. In addition, Vennes was charged with one count of money laundering.

    PCI was owned and operated by Petters, who represented that funds invested in PCI promissory notes would be used to finance the purchase of electronics and other consumer merchandise. Purportedly, PCI would then resell that merchandise, for a profit, to certain “big box” retailers, including Sam’s Club and Costco. In truth, however, no merchandise was bought or resold. Instead, Petters diverted for his own personal benefit hundreds of millions of dollars. His $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme unraveled in 2008, when federal agents executed search warrants at his business offices and other locations. He was subsequently prosecuted and, in April of 2010, sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. He is currently serving his sentence in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.

    Petters began the PCI Ponzi scheme in or before 1993. Starting in the late 1990s, he raised most of the proceeds of the fraud by selling PCI notes to large hedge funds, managed and operated by hedge fund managers. Hedge fund managers had a fiduciary duty to their investors. They made representations to their investors regarding the investments, the due diligence performed on the investments, and the financial mechanisms put in place to protect the hedge fund’s investments in PCI. In exchange for their efforts, the hedge fund managers obtained management fees from investor funds.

    The indictment returned today charges Harrold and Prevost with defrauding hedge fund investors. The men co founded Palm Beach Capital Management, which served as the investment adviser for the four Palm Beach hedge funds. According to the indictment, Vennes directed Harold and Prevost to communicate with Petters and PCI only through him. In November of 2002, Harrold and Prevost purportedly first invested hedge fund money in PCI, and as of September 24, 2008, the hedge funds reportedly held PCI investments totaling approximately $1 billion. Between 2002 and 2008, Harrold and Prevost’s companies allegedly grossed more than $58 million in management fees. For his part, Vennes received more than $60 million in commissions based on the Palm Beach investments in PCI.

    Allegedly, the defendants made material misrepresentations and concealed material information about the PCI investments in order to induce investors to purchase securities. For example, investors were told that when a retailer purchased consumer electronics or other goods from PCI, those products were paid for by the retailer with funds directly deposited into a bank account under the control of Harrold and Prevost’s management companies. As a result, investors were falsely assured that all PCI transactions were, in fact, occurring. However, the defendants knew the hedge funds received payments from PCI alone and never from retailers.

    Moreover, by February of 2008, millions of dollars of PCI notes were on the verge of default. Between February and September of 2008, the defendants engaged in a scheme to swap more than $1 billion worth of PCI promissory notes to create the appearance that PCI could repay the notes held by the Palm Beach funds. All note swaps allegedly went through Vennes. During that same time period, Harrold and Prevost allegedly continued to report to investors that the hedge funds were generating steady profits and, encouraged and assisted by Vennes, solicited new investors and additional money from existing investors, raising more than $75 million in new money from more than 30 investors.

    If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum penalty of five years on each securities fraud count, while Vennes is subject to as much as ten additional years in federal prison for money laundering. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

  12. From the FBI press release~ “PCI was owned and operated by Petters, who represented that funds invested in PCI promissory notes would be used to finance the purchase of electronics and other consumer merchandise.”

    From the indictment~ “VENNES told HARROLD and PREVOST that he knew Petters’ business “intimately.” VENNES explained to HARROLD and PREVOST how the PCI purchase order financing mechanism purportedly operated and VENNES told HARROLD and PREVOST that he had in the past conducted “due diligence” on PCI. Among other things, VENNES told HARROLD and PREVOST,
    a. That before investing in a pel deal, VENNES would contact the supplier of the goods purportedly being sold;
    b. That before investing in a PCI deal, VENNES would contact the alleged purchaser of the goods purportedly being purchased; and
    c. That before investing in a per deal, VENNES would verify that the shipping process had been arranged, that the products were ready for shipment, had verified that a copy of the Bill of Lading had been received, had verified that the entire shipment was insured, and had checked the terms of the purchase order for accuracy.

    This information accounts for “Mr. Vennes is on tape stating the empty warehouses will cause the scheme to “implode” and that the whole thing is “a little paper manufacturing plant.”

    From Star Tribune~ ( ) “In one undercover tape recording set up by prosecutors, Vennes allegedly tells Petters and others the scheme will “implode” if investors and auditors attempt to visit warehouses where the merchandise was supposedly stored. The tape transcripts, from a recorder worn by Petters lieutenant Deanna Coleman, also quote Vennes as telling Petters the operation is “a little paper manufacturing plant.”

    On one occasion Petters is quoted as saying he and Vennes would be jointly implicated if the scheme were uncovered.”

  13. Steve, I think your right, as initial reactions are often missed and simple passion can be easily taken as anger when out of passion and defending one you care for based on personal experience. So, sorry Terry, for suggesting angry when it may well just be passion for a friend and a need to “rescue” or simply be loyal to one you care for. THose are admirable things, just like your serving in armed forces.

    Oh and Steve, I really not looking for Terry/tinman’s approval, just trying to come to an understanding. He may always consider me someone who is just tearing down his friend.

    ANd yes Terry I have prayed over folks involved and even what to post about.

  14. It is true. “I believe we are seeing his passion.” As Mr. Steve suggested. But not just because of my friendship with Frank. If you recall I stated in earlier when this whole thing began I would not even comment on Mr. Petters…Until he had his day in court. He has had is day, and was found wanting.

    My passion is my belief that we are all innocent…until proven guilty. You, Steve, myself, or anyone else. I personally severed this country in a time when 57 thousand men died protecting that very freedom. And as long as I breathe, I will not release my grip on that freedom. I would just as passionately stand by you peacerbringer, or you Steve if you were under indictments of any kind.

    That is the very freedom this country was, and sadly no longer seems to be built on. And saddest of all, by men who call themselves children of the living God. Men who have read the indictments brought against our Lord. The heresy, the lies, the partial truths, the innuendos. We the children of God more than most…should know better.

    Reading what is public domain in the indictments, and what the news papers regurgitate to us, and the entire file the courts intend to use against Frank are in fact two very different things. I have read everything you reposted, and I have talked with Frank. I choose to stand by my friend…and most importantly…his rights.

    Frank does not need me to rescue him. I am not his savior. Jesus is. I have no desire to rescue him. I agree with your statement peacebringer in part. “simple passion can be easily taken as anger when out of passion and defending one you care for based on personal experience.” It saddens me when I realize those same passions and willingness to defend are not as passionately defended for individual’s freedoms.

    You see my personal experience tells me there are blood soaked fields across the entire planet, that men more honorable then I, died to protect. Yes Frank is my friend. He has proven that to me for over 20 plus years. But my passion is due to the fact that even Frank deserves the freedom of being innocent…until proven guilty.

    And in the end not even personal freedoms will matter. Not in light of this truth.

    Romans 14:12 so then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
    Matthews 12 36But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. 37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

    We are all going to stand before the judgment seat of God. We are not going to give an account of others to God nor they are not going to give an account of us to God, but we personally each one of us will give an account to God.

  15. […] narcotics dealer, along with his colleagues Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) and Tom Petters (…) who channeled tens of thousands of dollars into Bachmann’s political war chest […]

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