A Pennsylvania businessman known as the “godfather of payday lending” was sentenced on Friday to 14 years in prison for conspiring to collect on hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal high-interest loans issued to thousands of people.

Charles Hallinan, 77, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno in Philadelphia after a federal jury in November found him guilty on charges including racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors had sought up to 19-1/2 years in prison for Hallinan, who they said owned and operated more than a dozen payday lending businesses and through his crimes harmed hundreds of thousands of financially-desperate people.

Robreno also ordered Hallinan to pay a $2.5 million fine.

Michael Rosensaft, Hallinan’s lawyer, said he plans to appeal.

Rosensaft also expressed concern about how Hallinan, who suffers from cancer and a heart condition, would be treated in prison.

The charges against Hallinan were filed in 2016 amid a crackdown by prosecutors during President Barack Obama’s administration on abusive practices by payday lenders.

Such companies offer small loans that are to be repaid in a short time, often from the person’s next paycheck, but critics say borrowers have to pay overly high interest rates and fees.

– By Nate Raymond, Reuters, 6 July 2018.

Link to Reuters.

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