How much should a racketeering conviction cost a man who for years flouted state laws and preyed upon cash-strapped Americans to build one of the nation’s largest illegal payday-lending empires?
More than $491 million, if the government has its way.
That’s the sum federal prosecutors in Philadelphia hope to recoup next month from Charles M. Hallinan, the so-called godfather of payday lending, in one of the region’s largest criminal forfeiture proceedings, writes Jeremy Roebuck for philly.com.
In addition to cash from 18 bank accounts – including more than $484,000 from Hallinan’s personal coffers – the government has laid out a staggering wish list of additional items to forfeit.
Among them: Hallinan’s $2.75 million lakefront condo in Boca Raton, Fla.; his family’s $1.8 million, 8,000-square-foot home in Villanova; and a small fleet of luxury vehicles including a $142,000 Bentley Flying Spur.
In all, prosecutors concluded, Hallinan’s Bala Cynwyd-based lending empire brought in more than $491 million between 2008 and 2013, the period covered by his indictment.
They now say they are entitled to every penny.
Hallinan “collect[ed] hundreds of millions of dollars in unlawful debt … knowing that these businesses were unlawful, and all the while devising schemes to evade the law,” Grieb and Carrillo wrote.
But Jacobs maintains that the government has willfully misinterpreted how both Hallinan’s business and racketeering forfeiture laws work. Although he does not dispute the gross revenue brought in by his client’s companies, the lawyer argues that the vast majority of that total was Hallinan’s own money paid back to him after it had been lent out to borrowers.
Forfeiture laws, he argued in a recent court filing, only allow prosecutors to seize the financial gains a convicted racketeer made through their criminal acts – a figure, that in Hallinan’s case, Jacobs puts at just under $69 million.
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