Wasendorf gets 50 years in prison


The saga of Russell Wasendorf Sr. was riveting from the start.

The CEO of the Peregrine Financial Group, based in Cedar Falls, Iowa, an unlikely locale for high financial crimes, was found unconscious and near-death in his car in the company parking lot. He had tried and failed to kill himself, leaving a detailed note that ran through his crimes over 20 years in the futures industry. All told, he was able to steal $215 million, which goes a long way in Cedar Falls.

For 20 years, he was able to get away with stunning embezzlement, leading some to later dub him the Bernard Madoff of the Midwest. He achieved his crimes less by technical knowledge of market structure and proprietary technology and more by sheer force of personality. He was the only employee with access apparently to accounts owned by clients, and he became adept at forging statements before they were forwarded to the client.

Some of that $215 million was put toward good causes. He was a rock star in the regional philanthropic scene. But none of that excuses what he did. A judge has fittingly sentenced him to 50 years in prison, with no chance of parole, which is what the prosecution had requested. He is 64 years old now.

For more:
- here's an article from the Des Moines Register

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