Peregrine Founder Strikes Plea Deal

Sep 13 2012 | 7:50am ET

Russell Wasendorf, the head of collapsed futures brokerage Peregrine Financial Group, will plead guilty to defrauding clients of more than $200 million.

Wasendorf, who had already admitted to some of his crimes in a confession written in July as PFG fell apart and just before he attempted suicide, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors. Under it, he'll admit to mail fraud, embezzlement and making false statements to regulators, and could face up to 50 years in prison.

Wasendorf last month pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of lying to regulators. In his confession, he admitted to "fraud" and to having "cheated," acknowledging that he took "more than $100 million" in client money to shore up the firm.

A federal magistrate judge said he will consider the plea deal at a later date. Wasendorf is currently cooperating with the investigation and has said he wants to be released from prison pending his sentencing.

Separately, Wasendorf's son, also Russell, the president of the collapsed firm, has offered to turn over his title to PFG's Cedar Falls, Iowa, headquarters and other properties, a move that could net up to $3.4 million for PFG's creditors and customers. The deal could be sunk, however, by disagreements between the younger Wasendorf and U.S. Bank.

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