Peregrine ex-chief sentenced to 50 years in prison for financial crimes

Russell R. Wasendorf Sr. Image: marketswiki.comProminent futures-industry trader, Russell Wasendorf Sr was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Thursday for embezzling from clients and misleading banks for two decades.

The chief executive of the now-defunct brokerage firm the Peregrine Financial Group, stole over than $215 million, that according to a judge would likely never be recovered.

Wasendorf was handed down the maximum sentence recommended by the government by judge Linda Reade of the US District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

According to Sean Berry, acting US attorney in Cedar Rapids, the lengthy prison sentence imposed was just punishment for a con man who built a business on smoke and mirrors.

Wasendorf's penalty is the latest in a series of stiff sentences handed down by judges for financial crimes. Bernard L Madoff was given 150 years for the massive Ponzi scheme he perpetrated while Allen Stanford is serving a 110-year prison term for swindling investors of nearly a $7 billion. Thomas J Petters is serving a 50-year sentence for defrauding investors of nearly $4 billion.

The fraud carried out by Wasendorf, 64, was perpetrated 1,000 miles from Wall Street, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The crime came to light last summer after Wasendorf was found unconscious in his car in Peregrine's parking lot, a hose running from the exhaust pipe into the passenger compartment. Wasendorf had left a detailed suicide note explaining his crimes.