Wasendorf gets maximum allowed sentence

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Russell Wasendorf (jail photo)

An Iowa man will spend 50 years in prison for stealing more than $215 million of investors’ money.

Russell Wasendorf Sr., 64, of Cedar Falls, pleaded guilty in September 2012 to mail fraud, embezzlement of customer funds, and making false statements.  Wasendorf was the owner and chief executive officer of commodity futures investment company Peregrine Financial Group, Inc.  The company has gone bankrupt.

Wasendorf confessed to stealing millions of dollars from more than 13,000 customers by withdrawing money from the company and forging bank statements to cover the missing funds.  Federal prosecutors said Wasendorf submitted false periodic reports and phony bank records to the regulators to cover his crimes.  He created a post office box to intercept paperwork about the company that was supposed to go to U.S. Bank.

Acting U.S. Attorney Sean Berry called Wasendorf “a con man who built a business on smoke and mirrors.”

At his January 31, 2013 sentencing hearing, Wasendorf was ordered to pay back the $215,530,041.39 in missing funds.  The court imposed a $100 million judgment of forfeiture and the maximum prison sentence of 50 years.  Any money Wasendorf might make from publicity about the crimes must also go toward the restitution amount.

Wasendorf was held by the U.S. Marshal’s Service until he can be taken to federal prison.