Judge sets sentencing for Jan. 31 in Cedar Falls fraud scheme

Brokerage owner Wassendorf admitted guilt

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The court has scheduled sentencing for Russell Wasendorf Sr. in the scheme that brought down his commodities trading firm and left his clients empty handed.

Wasendorf, 64, founder of Peregrine Financial Group of Cedar Falls, pleaded guilty in September to charges he misled regulators and siphoned off as much as $200 million from his customers’ accounts.

On Monday, Judge Linda Reade set sentencing for 9 a.m. Jan. 31 in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids. Wasendorf remains in custody at the Linn County Jail until then.

The maximum punishment for the charges is up to 50 years in prison, but Wasendorf faces between 24 years to life in prison, depending on arguments over enhancements and leniency, prosecutors and defense attorneys said earlier.

A sealed draft of Wasendorf’s pre-sentence investigation report was filed in December. Both the government and the defense filed objections — also sealed — to its findings, and a final report was submitted Jan. 10.

Authorities said Wasendorf attempted to commit suicide in July after commodities regulators indicated they were changing reporting requirements.

In this note, Wasendorf said he had been submitting bogus bank statements. An examination of his customer account found it was short some $200 million.

Peregrine filed for bankruptcy, and an auction of assets belonging to the company and Wasendorf raised just over $1 million in December.

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