By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — They are called Payday Loans because borrowers desperately need cash before their next payday.
Federal prosecutors now claim three men took advantage of victims’ financial plights by billing them on “payday” loans for the past 5 years, charging $30 for every $100 borrowed, a rate that prosecutors say exceeded 700 percent.
The Federal indictment claims 75-year-old Charles Hallinan of Villanova, and his attorney 67-year-old Wheeler Neff of Wilmington, Delaware, with taking in more than $688 million in “payday” loans which are now prohibited in Pennsylvania and many other states.
Among the alleged schemes cited in the 53 page indictment, the pair paid Native Americans to claim they were, in fact, running the illegal loan business because under “sovereign tribal immunity” they could not be charged.
The 3rd suspect indicted, 66-year-old Randall Ginger, a Canadian citizen, allegedly claimed to be a “hereditary chief” of a tribe. The suspects are accused of using him in an attempt to hide their illegal payday loans.
Both Hallinan and Neff pled not guilty and were released on bail.
Neither commented outside the courthouse, but Neff’s attorney Dennis Cogan emphasized his client was not guilty and they would fight the charges.
Prosecutors also are requesting forfeiture of the suspects’ properties and possessions including Hallinan’s Main Line mansion valued at more than $2 million, and a Bentley Flying Spur, along with a Mercedes.