Business/Economy
3:38 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Wasendorf Waits

Russell Wasendorf had hoped tomorrow would be the day he’d be released on bail...

But the hearing's been postponed, so the former head of Peregrine Financial Group remains in jail…

and the business empire he built,  first in Chicago and then later in Iowa,  continues to crumble. 

His once fairy tale like existence came to an abrupt end earlier this month.

Wasendorf’s story is one that rarely happens, a Chicago entrepreneur who got lucky with the stock market, moved his business and family back to his home state of Iowa and turned everything he touched to gold. Waterloo Courier  Business columnist Jim Offner has watched the company’s rapid expansion over the past three years.. He says, “they had their hand in construction, they had their hand in wind energy , they had their hand in local charities, they made grants to the university so  they were well entrenched and we certainly thought well endowed” Offner, says when Wasendorf attempted suicide outside company headquarters July 9th, no one believed it.

The surprises had just begun, as Wasendorf prepared to take his life, he confessed in a document that he embezzled more than 200 million dollars from clients of his brokerage firm Peregrine Financial Group and deceived regulators for more than 20 years.  As the news got out, One of those regulators, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission promptly froze PFG’s assets and the firm filed for bankruptcy the next day.

Federal Prosecutors say given the amount of money involved and his suicide attempt, it's unlikely Wasendorf  will be released on bail when he finally appears in court.