Former Peregrine Financial Group CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday on several fraud counts, which cost the brokerage and its clients hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Wasendorf received the maximum sentence allowed by law for his scheme, which was carried out over nearly 20 years. He was also ordered to pay $215.5 million in restitution for his crimes, as nearly 24,000 former customers are still attempting to recoup the money they lost.
"I'm very sorry for the financial and emotional damage I've caused to investors and employees of Peregrine Financial Group," Wasendorf said Thursday at his sentencing hearing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I feel I fully deserve whatever sentence I am given. My guilt is such I will accept that sentence."
As financial regulators worked to crack down on the conspiracy and expose his fraud throughout 2012, Wasendorf, 64, attempted to kill himself outside of his lavish, $24 million headquarters in July. Reuters notes that investigators believed that the headquarters was financed almost entirely with money stolen from his company and consumers.
Wasendorf admitted in July that he had fleeced money from tens of thousands of customers over nearly 20 years by falsifying financial documents and lying to nearly everyone involved in the company, from financial regulators to high-level employees -- and even family members.
In September, Wasendorf admitted to stealing more than $100 million from the company, though prosecutors argued that the number was closer to $215 million. The judge clearly agreed, ordering Wasendorf to pay back $215.5 million to former customers.
After Wasendorf’s fraud was revealed, the firm quickly collapsed as investors and customers scrambled to get their money back. However, 24,000 investors and customers are still waiting to receive even a cent. Chief Judge Linda Reade of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Iowa said that many may never receive the money that was stolen by Wasendorf.