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Bank swindler faces new fraud charges

A convicted bank swindler who boldly walked out of a federal courtroom in Spokane three years ago to avoid arrest is back in jail, accused of another scheme.

John Earl Petersen, the key figure in the collapse of a Montana bank more than a decade ago, is accused of stealing nearly $170,000 from a brother and sister in 2006 after telling them they would receive $100 million in return.

Petersen is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail. He’s pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion and is to stand trial in May, U.S. District Judge Edward Shea ruled recently.

It’s the latest for an admitted con man and frequent Las Vegas gambler who had a business office in Spokane when he was arrested in 1998, accused of masterminding the $10.5 million collapse of Montana Bank of Whitefish, Mont. Read the rest of my story here.

Petersen is pictured at the very top in 1997, and at the top left in 2008.

Past coverage:

Feb. 1, 1998: Agent paints Petersen as loan-sharking mobster