Former CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. got 50 years in prison for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from Peregrine Financial Group, which he founded.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge stated that Wasendorf’s customers will likely never recover the money they lost.
Wasendorf, 64, tried to commit suicide right before the fraud was uncovered last year, reports The New York Times. He received the maximum sentence possible for his crimes.
Along with his time in prison, the CEO must also pay $215.5 million in restitution for the scheme that lasted almost 20 years.
Wasendorf triggered the collapse of Peregrine Financial Group with his fraud. The scam also shook investors’ confidence in the US futures industry. After he was sentenced to 50 years in prison, the former CEO stated:
“I’m very sorry for the financial and emotional damage I’ve caused to investors and employees of Peregrine Financial Group. I feel I fully deserve whatever sentence I’m given. My guilt is such I will accept that sentence.”
The Chicago Tribune notes that Wasendorf admitted in July to stealing from tens of thousands of clients over a period of almost 20 years. He also faked bank statements and lied to federal regulators, employees, and his closest family members.
The former CEO pleaded guilty to the charges in September, saying he had embezzled more than $100 million during the course of the scheme. Acting US Attorney Sean Berry stated:
“The lengthy prison sentence imposed today is just punishment for a con man who built a business on smoke and mirrors.”
After Peregrine Financial collapsed, more than 24,000 customers were left without the majority of the money they invested in the brokerage.
Do you think that former CEO Russell Wasendorf deserves 50 years in prison for his crimes?