Wasendorf Pleads Guilty

Peregrine Financial Group CEO Russ Wasendorf Sr. pleaded guilty to four felony counts on Monday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Prosecutors say the discredited CEO will face a minimum of 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud, embezzling customer funds, and two counts of making false statements to regulatory agencies.

The 64-year-old attempted suicide in July after learning that regulators would gain access to his bank account. He was arrested days later when it became apparent that he defrauded more than 24,000 customers over a 20-year period.

Peregrine’s customers lost more than $200 million in commodity investments. They are expected to receive only a portion of the money from their accounts. An initial payment is expected that will restore 30 to 40 percent of their funds.

Wasendorf mislead regulators at the National Futures Association by intercepting auditor’s forms and sending back falsified documents. Using this method, he managed to conceal the withdrawal of customer funds, which he used to purchase his $20 million dollar company headquarters.

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade ordered Wasendorf to the Linn County jail on Monday to await sentencing. Prosecutors say he poses a risk of fleeing or committing suicide. Wasendorf has asked instead to live with his pastor in Cedar Rapids until his sentencing hearing.

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