In Suicide Note, Peregrine's Wasendorf Described Committing 20 Years of Fraud, Expressed Remorse
Unsealed court documents contained part of the note Russell Wasendorf Sr. left when he attempted to commit suicide Monday.
Russell Wasendorf Sr., the founder and CEO of Peregrine Financial Group, also known as PFG or PFGBEST, wrote in a suicide note that he had been committing fraud for 20 years, according to court documents unsealed today.
Wasendorf's online brokerage firm came under investigation and $220 million was allegedly discovered missing from the company's U.S. Bank account. Wasendorf, 64, reportedly tried to commit suicide outside of PFG's Cedar Falls headquarters on Monday.
The court document said Wasendorf wrote a note, addressed to his wife, detailing nearly 20 years of fraud. His son, Russell Wasendorf Jr., also received a copy of the note, according the document.
According to the document, Wasendorf wrote:
I have committed fraud. For this I feel constant and intense guilt. I am very remorseful that my greatest transgressions have been to my fellow man.
In the note, Wasendorf said he embezzled millions of dollars from PFG's customer accounts over a period of nearly 20 years.
He wrote he concealed the crime by making sure he was the sole individual with access to PFG's U.S. Bank Account, and that no one else in the company ever saw an actual U.S. Bank statement. He said he made counterfeit statements within a few hours of receiving the actual statements and submitted the counterfeits to the accounting department.
...I had no access to additional capital and I was forced into a difficult decision: Should I go out of business or cheat? I guess my ego was too big to admit failure.
The note goes on to say he used Photo Shop, Excel, scanners and both laser and ink jet printers to make the forgeries. He wrote he also created to P.O. Box for the purpose of intercepting statements mailed between the bank and auditors.
The criminal complaint said investigators interviewed Wasendorf at University of Iowa Hospital, where he was recovering after his suicide attempt. The complaint says Wasendorf allegedly estimated the amount of loss due to his fraud exceeded $100 million.
Wasendorf was arrested today and is scheduled to make an intial appearance in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids at 4 p.m.
The full criminal complaint, with more of Wasendorf's note, is attached to this article as a PDF.