Ex-CEO Gets 50 Years For $215m Fraud


Russell Wasendorf Sr., the founder of the bankrupt commodities firm Peregrine Financial Group Inc., was sentenced to 50 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a theft of more than $215m from customers.

Bloomberg reports that Wasendorf, 64, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Acting U.S. Attorney Sean Berry said in a statement. The financier used a printer, software and a post office box to create false bank statements and other documents and hide his 20-year embezzlement starting in the early 1990s, prosecutors said.

'By lying to investors and regulators, Wasendorf defrauded thousands of innocent investors out of a staggering $215,000,000', Berry said in the statement. 'The lengthy prison sentence imposed.... is just punishment for a con man who built a business on smoke and mirrors'.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan told U.S. District Judge Linda Reade in court filings that Wasendorf deserved the maximum 50-year penalty because of the amount customers lost and the sophisticated nature of the crime. Wasendorf started stealing customer funds within two years of Peregrine’s original financing, using a copying machine to conceal his theft of $250,000 to keep his company afloat, the government said.

'Defendant’s entire business was used as a mechanism to gather and purloin investor funds', Deegan said. 'From that point on, as defendant well knew, PFG was never profitable'.

Hit the link below to access the complete Bloomberg article:

Peregrine’s Wasendorf Gets 50 Years for Theft of Millions

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