After 20 years of embezzling, this chief exec has received his sentence.
Russell Wasendorf, Sr., founder and CEO of Peregrine Financial Group Inc. was recently sentenced to 50 years in prison for theft of more than $215 million from clients.
U.S. Attorney Sean Berry said in a statement that Wasendorf created false bank statements and other documents in order to hide the embezzlement that started in the early 1990s.
Berry said in a statement, “The lengthy prison sentence imposed today is just punishment for a con man who built a business on smoke and mirrors.”
Wasendorf’s company, Peregrine, was a futures and options commodities firm, the judge ruled. He used customers’ money to boost Peregrine’s financial position and fund outside businesses. He also used the money for personal use, including paying for lofty headquarters, a corporate jet and business interests in Romania.
‘Always knew it would catch up to me’
The feds first became aware of the crimes after a failed suicide attempt in July. Wasendorf piped auto exhaust into his car outside Peregrine’s headquarters in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Later, he admitted to his crimes in a written statement. He pleaded guilty in September to mail fraud and two counts of lying to federal prosecutors and was ordered to pay $215 million in restitution to over 13,000 victims.
Wasendorf told the feds that “he always knew that it would catch up to him,” Jane Kelly, Wasendorf’s attorney, said in a court filing. He also said the stolen funds went to “maintain the increasing levels of regulatory capital to keep PFG in business and to pay business” losses, according to the filing.
U.S. v. Wasendorf, 12-cr-2021, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa