Brokerage CEO pleads not guilty in $200M fraud
Peregrine Financial CEO Russ Wasendorf Sr. is seen on September 8, 2009, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. / Brandon Pollock/Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
(AP) CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The founder an Iowa-based brokerage plead not guilty to charges stemming from a suspected $200 million fraud scheme that drove his firm to bankruptcy and ripped off thousands of customers.
Peregrine Financial Group, Inc. CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. was arraigned Friday in federal court in Cedar Rapids on an indictment that charges him with 31 counts of lying to regulators.
Wasendorf's image as a prominent businessman and philanthropist quickly crumbled when he was found in his car outside of Peregrine's headquarters in Cedar Falls unconscious after attempting suicide last month.
Investigators say they found a suicide note in which he confessed to a 20-year fraud scheme, and admitted during an interview from his hospital bed to stealing at least $100 million from customers.
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