* Wasendorf transferred to Indiana prison from Iowa
* 50-year sentence, crimes considered in prison assignment
* Former CEO may mix with violent offenders behind bars
By Tom Polansek
CHICAGO, Feb 28 Russell Wasendorf Sr., the
former chief executive of Peregrine Financial Group, has been
transferred to a high-security federal prison in Indiana to
serve his 50-year sentence for bilking $215 million from
customers of the failed futures brokerage.
Wasendorf, who turned 65 on Monday, arrived on Wednesday at
the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, which was once
the home of convicted Illinois Governor George Ryan, according
to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Now known as inmate #12191-029, Wasendorf had been locked in
a county jail in Iowa, where Peregrine Financial was based,
since he confessed in July to stealing from tens of thousands of
clients over a period of two decades.
A federal judge in January sentenced Wasendorf, who had
tried to kill himself just before the fraud was uncovered last
year, to 50 years behind bar, the maximum allowed by law.
He pleaded guilty in September to embezzling more than $100
million, used to fund a life of luxury that included a private
jet, extensive wine collection and lakefront condo in Chicago.
Prosecutors said the amount stolen was more than $215 million.
Prison officials considered the severity of Wasendorf's
crimes, the length of his sentence, and geography when they
assigned him to Terre Haute, said Chris Burke, a spokesman for
the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Inmates with longer sentences are often jailed at
high-security facilities because they are thought to present a
greater risk for escape, he said.
The government also tries to place convicts in prisons
within 500 miles of the facilities in which they were previously
Wasendorf's life behind bars will be tightly controlled.
He will wear prison-issued khaki-colored pants, a khaki-colored
button-up shirt and prison-issued gym shoes and underwear.
He will be expected to work during the day, with potential
jobs ranging from cooking food in the kitchen to sweeping
floors, Burke said.
It's possible he will mix with violent offenders at Terre
Haute, which counts 1,501 inmates in its high-security wing.
"A high-security facility is just that. It's a high-security
facility," Burke said.
Wasendorf believes he will likely die behind bars, his
pastor told Reuters last month.
As regulators closed in on his fraud last year, Wasendorf
made a botched suicide attempt outside his $24-million
headquarters in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which investigators say was
financed with money siphoned from customers.
Peregrine Financial, known as PFGBest, quickly collapsed,
and 24,000 former customers are still missing most of the money
they had invested with the firm.