Former Peregrine CEO Indicted on 31 Counts in $200 Million Fraud Scheme

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The former chief executive officer of Peregrine Financial was indicted Monday in federal court on 31 charges stemming from a $200 million fraud scheme.

Russell Wasendorf, 64, of Cedar Falls, is charged with 31 counts making and using false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the government of the United States. According to the indictment filed Monday, Wasendorf on 31 occasions between February 2010 and June 2012 caused false year-end financial statements to be submitted to the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission and overstated the value of the company's customer segregated funds by at least tens of millions of dollars, knowing the actual value was far less.

He also submitted and caused monthly reports for the company to the trading commission that overstated the value of customer segregated funds by at least tens of millions of dollars, knowing the actual value was far less, was according to the indictment.

If convicted on all charges, Wasendorf faces up to 155 years in prison and a $7.7 million fine. His arraignment hasn't been set at this time.

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 were called to a suicide attempt report at Peregrine in July and found Wasendorf unresponsive in his car, which had a tube hooked to its tailpipe, according the criminal complaint.

Wasendorf said in the signed statement he was in financial trouble and had choose between going out of business or cheating.

Wasendorf explained in the note how he made forgeries of bank statements and how he went about covering up the scheme.
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