Nationwide Loan Scam Gets A Lawyer 7 Years Jerrell A. Breslin Got Jail Time For Bilking 30 People Of $2.4 Million In ``advance Fees.'' No Loans Existed.

Posted: February 12, 1998

A Miami lawyer was sentenced yesterday to 7 1/4 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution to more than 30 people nationwide who a jury found were cheated out of $2.4 million in ``advance fees'' paid to obtain what turned out to be nonexistent loans.

``You have abilities. You have personality,'' U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Broderick told Jerrell A. Breslin. ``Having listened to the victims during this trial, it's difficult for me to understand that you did these things.''

In addition to the no-parole prison term, Broderick ordered Breslin, 44, to pay $150,000 restitution to individuals and businesses defrauded by his Center City finance house known as Turnbull & Sons Ltd. and a related Florida firm named Credit Finance Inc.

Breslin, a tall, husky man with shaggy brown hair, struggled to retain his composure during sentencing and said nothing to the judge. He was taken into custody immediately. His attorneys, Robert E. Madden and Peter Goldberger, said they would ask the judge to release Breslin on bail pending appeal.

Breslin and Leslie S. Mersky, 52, of Aventura, Fla., were convicted in July of conspiracy, wire fraud, and unlawful monetary transactions involving Turnbull's operation from 1990 to 1992. Mersky will be sentenced March 11.

With its prestigious-sounding name, Rittenhouse Square address, and purported international financial ties, Turnbull marketed itself at a time of tight credit to businesses and individuals who needed venture capital or had trouble getting sufficient loans.

Turnbull clients paid an ``advance fee'' of between $10,000 and $300,000 and were promised the necessary collateral to obtain multimillion-dollar loans from international financial institutions.

But prosecutors alleged that, once paid, Breslin, Mersky and their Turnbull associates became hard to reach. Prosecutors said that Breslin and Mersky pocketed fees and that Turnbull was a sham with no assets other than the fees it was paid and no ability to obtain loans.

Prosecutors were aided in building their case by three former Turnbull associates who pleaded guilty: Center City lawyer Morris L. Chucas, 64; West Chester businessman Peter D. Bistrian, 40; and Jaime P. Young, 39, of Lake Oswego, Ore.

Neither Breslin nor Mersky testified at trial, but their defense blamed Turnbull's troubles on Chucas, Bistrian and associates who they said lied to obtain favorable treatment by prosecutors.

Chucas was sentenced last year to five years of probation and $45,000 restitution; Bistrian to 24 months in prison and $75,000 restitution; and Young to nine months in prison and $85,000 restitution. One other co-defendant, Louis M. Mayo Jr., 66, of Center City, is expected to plead guilty Feb. 26, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas R. Perricone.

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