Saturday, July 7, 2018

'Godfather of payday lending' sentenced to 14 years, stripped of $64M, for preying on financially vulnerable

 Main Line payday lending pioneer Charles Hallinan. Maggie Loesch photo 

Jeremy Roebuck reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

A former Main Line investment banker who made a career of flouting state laws and preying on cash-strapped people to build one of the nation’s largest payday-lending empires was sentenced Friday to 14 years in federal prison and stripped of more than $64 million in assets.

But Charles M. Hallinan, 77, of Villanova, remained unrepentant in the face of a prison term that his lawyers said might as well be a “death sentence” given his age and rapidly declining health.

Hallinan said nothing when given the chance to address U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno before his punishment was imposed. In interviews with probation officers before Friday’s hearing in Philadelphia, he said he was “exactly the opposite” of contrite.

Perhaps that was to be expected from a man whose colleagues dubbed him “the godfather of payday lending.” But it only cemented the judge’s decision to strip Hallinan of his vast financial holdings and freedom during the final years of his life.

“It would be a miscarriage of justice to impose a sentence that would not reflect the seriousness of this case,” Robreno said. “The sentence here should send a message that criminal conduct like [this] will not pay.”

Hallinan’s sentence came seven months after a jury convicted him of 17 counts including racketeering, international money laundering, and fraud in a case that cast doubt on the legality of many of the business tactics that have turned the payday-lending industry into a multibillion-dollar-a-year financial juggernaut.

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