Peregrine’s Wasendorf signs plea deal, FBI agent tells court

Russell Wasendorf Sr., the indicted founder of Peregrine Financial Group Inc., has signed a plea agreement with prosecutors in which he admits to crimes including mail fraud, an FBI agent testified.

William Langdon, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agent whose affidavit supported the original criminal complaint against Wasendorf in July, disclosed the agreement today at a detention hearing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, federal court.

Wasendorf, who has been in custody since his arrest on July 13, was indicted last month on 31 counts of lying to U.S. regulators about how much client money his now-bankrupt commodities firm had on deposit.

He entered a plea of not guilty on Aug. 17 and hasn’t changed that plea since then. Langdon didn’t say if or when the plea agreement would be brought before the court.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles is presiding over today’s hearing, which he scheduled at Wasendorf’s request, according to a Sept. 7 order posted in the court’s electronic docket.

Wasendorf was arrested four days after trying to asphyxiate himself in his car outside Peregrine’s Cedar Falls, Iowa, headquarters. Langdon, in his July affidavit, said the firm’s founder had in his possession at the time of the suicide attempt a written confession that said he stole from the firm for almost 20 years.

At least $190 million in client funds is unaccounted for, Peregrine bankruptcy trustee, Ira Bodenstein, told creditors at a meeting yesterday in federal court in Chicago, where the company filed for liquidation on July 10.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Wasendorf, 12-cr-2021, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa (Cedar Rapids).

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