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CEO of troubled Iowa brokerage in court, charged

Posted: July 13, 2012 4:00 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2012 4:00 p.m.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A federal prosecutor says the chief executive of an Iowa-based brokerage firm carried out a $200 million fraud scheme that could land him in prison for years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said Friday that Peregrine Financial Group Inc. CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. could face "a wide range of criminal charges" for the scheme in which he allegedly falsified bank records to embezzle customer funds for 20 years.

Deegan made the comment during Wasendorf's initial federal court appearance in Cedar Rapids on charges that he made false statements to financial regulators. Another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Wasendorf appeared healthy during the hearing. He'd been hospitalized after attempting suicide outside the company's headquarters on Monday.

Investigators say he admitted in a suicide note to carrying out an elaborate embezzlement scheme.


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