Former Peregrine CEO indicted on 31 counts in $200 million fraud scheme

If convicted, Wasendorf faces up to 155 years in prison and a $7.7 million fine

March 31, 2014 | 11:00 pm

CEDAR RAPIDS — The former chief executive officer of Peregrine Financial was indicted Monday in federal court in connection with a $200 million fraud scheme.

Russell Wasendorf, 64, of Cedar Falls, is charged with 31 counts of making and using false statements. Between February 2010 and June 2012, according to the indictment, he’s accused of causing false year-end financial statements to be submitted to the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission, along with overstating the value of the company’s customer segregated funds by at least tens of millions of dollars.

If convicted on all charges, Wasendorf faces up to 155 years in prison and a $7.7 million fine. His arraignment hasn’t yet been set scheduled.

Wasendorf, chief executive officer of Peregrine Financial Group Inc., admitted in a suicide note that he stole millions from his customers for more than 20 years, according to court documents.

“I was able to conceal my crime of forgery by being the sole individual with access to the US Bank accounts held by PFG,” Wasendorf wrote in a suicide note and signed statement to his wife and son that was included in the criminal complaint against him.

Black Hawk County sheriff’s deputies called to Peregrine in July found Wasendorf unresponsive in his car, which had a tube hooked to its tailpipe, according the criminal complaint.

Wasendorf said in the signed statement that he was in financial trouble and had choose between going out of business or cheating. He explained in the note how he made forgeries of bank statements and how he went about covering up the scheme.

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