Peregrine CEO set to leave jail after guilty plea

Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:37pm EDT
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By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Peregrine Financial Group Chief Executive Russell Wasendorf Sr., who has confessed to stealing more than $100 million from his futures brokerage's clients, will be released from jail after he pleads guilty on Monday to mail fraud, lying to regulators and embezzling customer money, according to a judge's order.

Pending sentencing for the crimes, Wasendorf, 64, will stay in the home of an Iowa pastor who has counseled him in prison and socialized with him in recent years, the order said. He will wear an electronic GPS monitoring device.

In approving Wasendorf's release, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles said Wasendorf's chances to flee were limited as he had surrendered his passport and assets to authorities.

"All of Defendant's known assets have been seized or restrained, and there is no evidence Defendant has access to any other ready assets," the order said.

Prosecutors said this week that Wasendorf had agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud, lying to federal regulators and embezzling customer money and could be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.

Wasendorf attempted suicide on July 9 near the headquarters of his Cedar Falls, Iowa, brokerage and left a signed confession of a 20-year-long fraud.

He was arrested on July 13 and charged with 31 counts of lying to federal regulators.

The search continues for the money he stole. Former clients are still unable to access funds frozen since the firm's bankruptcy on July 10.   Continued...

Exterior view of the Peregrine Financial Group headquarters at One Paragon Way in Cedar Falls, Iowa, July 11, 2012. REUTERS/Matthew Putney/Waterloo Courier