Iowa CEO Pleads Guilty in $100M Fraud

Peregrine Financial boss Russell Wasendorf faces 24 years in jail
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2012 8:06 AM CDT
Iowa CEO Pleads Guilty in $100M Fraud
This Monday, April 4, 2011 file photo shows Russ Wasendorf, Sr., CEO of Peregrine Financial Group, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Waterloo Courier, Rick Chase, File)

The CEO of Iowa's Peregrine Financial Group has pleaded guilty to fraud, including embezzling $100 million from 24,000 customers in the state over the course of 20 years. Russell Wasendorf Sr., who had been known for his generosity to universities, health care systems, and other institutions, could see 24 years in jail, the BBC reports. "He has gone from being a hero ... to a villain," said prosecutors.

Receivers are now trying to refund some of the money, selling off company assets including a corporate jet and a publishing firm. A restaurant and a 4,000-bottle wine collection could also bring in some cash. Customers are expected to recoup about 30% to 40% of their investments. Wasendorf had initially admitted to the fraud in a note when he attempted suicide earlier this year. (Read more Peregrine Financial Group stories.)

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