January 23, 2013

Peregrine Financial Group's former chief executive embezzled more than $215 million from customers of his now-defunct futures brokerage, U.S. prosecutors said in court documents filed on Tuesday.

Russell Wasendorf Sr., 64, who founded the firm, has pleaded guilty to embezzlement but has claimed the loss was less than $200 million, the documents said.

Wasendorf, who is in jail in Iowa, will be sentenced on Jan. 31. U.S. prosecutors say the amount of the loss and other factors including the large number of victims - more than 10,000 - mean he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"The government intends to respond at sentencing to any request by defendant for a downward variance or departure from the advisory guidelines sentence of 50 years' imprisonment," prosecutors said in the court filing.

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