Payday lending enterprise head sentenced to 15 years
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The head of a multimillion-dollar payday lending enterprise accused of evading state regulations by using Native American tribes and a bank as fronts has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $64 million in assets.
Charles Hallinan, 77, of Villanova was sentenced Friday on November jury convictions including racketeering, international money laundering, and fraud, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Prosecutors said he charged astronomical interest rates on short-term loans, and the ``rent-a-tribe'' and ``rent-a-bank'' scheme netted his companies more than $688 million between 2008 and 2013.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Dubnoff compared the interest rates of more than 700 percent on many of the defendant's loans to exorbitant fees charged by money-lending mobsters.
``The only difference between Mr. Hallinan and other loan sharks is that he doesn't break the kneecaps of people who don't pay his debts,'' Dubnoff said.
Defense attorney Edwin Jacobs, who has said Hallinan acted within the law, sought house arrest, citing recent cancer diagnoses. But U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno cited efforts to obstruct the investigation and said he had to send the message that crimes like the defendant's ``will not pay.''
Hallinan's co-defendant and longtime lawyer, 69-year-old Wheeler Neff, was sentenced in May to eight years.
Pennsylvania and more than a dozen other states have passed laws that criminalize payday loans, so named because they're issued in small amounts and meant to be repaid on a customer's next paycheck. Payday lenders say they have helped thousands of cash-strapped consumers, many of whom do not qualify for more traditional lines of credit.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com
By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019