Average price of gasoline creeps over $4 in Maine

AUGUSTA – The average cost of a gallon of gas in Maine has crossed the $4 threshold.

Price-monitoring website MaineGasPrices.com reported Monday that the average retail cost rose nearly four cents per gallon in the past week to $4.01.

The national average rose just over two cents in the past week to an average of $3.86 per gallon.

Current prices are now 31 cents per gallon more than at the same time last year and 19 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.

Stocks slip on N.Y. report, European currency concerns

NEW YORK – After surging over four days to near pre-recession highs, stocks slipped further from that goal Monday following a new sign of a slowdown in the U.S. economy and worries over Europe’s struggle to keep its currency union intact.

All three major indexes were down, though barely. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.27 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,553.10.

Dampening investor spirits was an Empire State Manufacturing Survey suggesting that conditions for New York manufacturers continued to weaken in September. That followed news from the Fed on Friday that U.S. industrial production fell in August by the largest amount in more than three years.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 4.58 to 1,461.19. The Nasdaq composite lost 5.28 to 3,178.67.

Six of the 10 major industry sectors in the S&P 500 fell, led by materials stocks, down 1.5 percent. Banks and other financial companies were also hit hard, down 1.1 percent.

Executive enters guilty plea to 20-year investor fraud

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Peregrine Financial Group CEO Russ Wasendorf Sr. pleaded guilty Monday to carrying out a 20-year fraud that duped investors.

In a court hearing, Wasendorf admitted to the $200 million fraud that he first confessed in a note found on him after an unsuccessful suicide attempt in July. The 64-year-old pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud, embezzling customer funds and making false statements to two regulatory agencies.

Prosecutors said Wasendorf likely will face a recommended minimum sentence of at least 24 years in prison at his sentencing hearing.

The guilty plea comes as a receiver is dismantling the business empire that Wasendorf built to pay back the 24,000 customers who are missing money.

The receiver has already gotten rid of Wasendorf’s corporate jet, and is trying to sell the company that published Wasendorf’s books and magazines on investing. The receiver is also moving to sell Wasendorf’s homes, his 4,000-bottle wine collection, the upscale restaurant he owned in Cedar Falls, and the $20 million company headquarters.

— From news service reports