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 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, writes Jeremy Roebuck in the Philadelphia Daily News.
Hallinan pioneered many of those tactics in an effort to evade state regulatory efforts, and taught many of the industry’s other top lenders how to make millions by illegally offering low-dollar, high-interest loans to financially desperate borrowers with limited access to more traditional lines of credit.
Interest rates on many of the loans he issued greatly exceeded rate caps instituted by the states in which borrowers lived, like Pennsylvania, which imposes a 6 percent annual limit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Dubnoff argued that there was little difference between the exorbitant fees charged by money-lending mobsters and the annual interest rates approaching 800 percent that were standard on many of Hallinan’s loans.
“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. “He was charging more interest than the Mafia.”
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