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Loan Sharks

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NEWS
December 15, 2005
As shoppers prepare to max out their credit cards at the malls, it's fitting that Harrisburg lawmakers are wrangling over how to regulate the practice of payday lending. These loans in amounts of only a few hundred dollars are repaid out of borrowers' next paycheck. They're like cash advances on a credit card - except that the annualized interest rate can be outrageous, sometimes exceeding 400 percent. No Santa's helper ever wants to become that desperate, cash-strapped, or that gullible.
NEWS
December 13, 2001 | By BRENDAN KOERNER
FEDERAL AUTHORITIES are currently prosecuting Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. - the 36-year-old son of jailed-for-life Philadelphia godfather Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo - for running a loan-sharking and gambling operation in New Jersey. According to a New York Times article, an FBI sweep of Junior's computer hard drive revealed that he was breaking federal usury laws by charging annual interest of 152 percent a year for his very illegal loans. Now, 152 percent is steep by Citibank standards, but it's a sweet deal compared to the terms offered by the "payday loan" companies, which charge average APRs of nearly 500 percent for their very legal loans.
BUSINESS
February 1, 2009 | Compiled from The Inquirer, Associated Press, Bloomberg News
"This is a real kick in the gut for Atlantic City. " - gambling industry consultant Joe Weinert, on delayed construction of the $2.5 billion Revel casino "Federal fiscal relief - it will end. The good news for me is that when it does, I'll be on a beach somewhere. The bad news is that I'll still be a Pennsylvania taxpayer. " - Gov. Rendell, whose second term expires at the end of 2010 "Keeping foreclosed properties occupied and in better repair will support local property values and promote a faster recovery in the housing market.
NEWS
August 27, 1990
Anyone got a spot for an out-of-work mobster? Really, there may be hundreds of skilled mob soldiers in New Jersey and Philadelphia facing the unemployment lines soon. Some 28 members of the Scarfo gang were rounded up last week by New Jersey investigators. Twelve more are on the authorities' hit list. Add those to the 17 mobsters jailed last year and the multiple sentences that kingpin Nicodemo Scarfo is serving, and you're talking major economic dislocation. The disappearance from public life of top and mid-level crime bosses will in all likelihood force hundreds of lesser-known former job-holders to look for new bosses, or a new line of work.
NEWS
November 5, 1986 | By Claude Lewis, Inquirer Editorial Board
The very name Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo conjures up images that frighten, even though most people in this region have never even seen him. His reputation as a bad man is so lavish that grown men shudder when they think about his alleged criminality. Scarfo, one of 18 organized-crime figures arrested this week, was charged in New Jersey indictments with racketeering, conspiracy and gambling. All of it reminds me of a phone call I received a few years ago. "Mr. Lewis," the voice on the phone said.
NEWS
June 11, 2007 | By Froma Harrop
The working poor make great victims. They are often trusting and financially unsophisticated, and with wages stagnant, they're desperate for cash. These folks hold jobs, so they have a money stream and possibly equity in their homes - all ripe for plunder. Corporate America has decided there's gold in draining the low-income masses of what little they have. Loan sharks and con artists once dominated this territory, but big businesses have moved in and are proving to be far smoother than the mugs who break legs.
NEWS
May 21, 2009 | By Michael Silverstein
I was raised in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a lower-middle-class neighborhood in those days. Most people living there were honest and hard-working, but there was still a mob presence. In consequence, I got pretty friendly with a number of petty-criminal, wiseguy-in-training types. One of them, whom I'll call "Rocco," called me from his condo in Florida the other day. Usually mellow and laid back since his retirement, he sounded very upset on the phone. After I confirmed that this conversation never took place, Rocco practically whined, "Dem guys, the banks, they're giving loan-sharking a bad name.
NEWS
April 16, 1987 | Daily News Staff Writer
A widow who had lost $73,000 in a gold swindle, shouted at the man who swindled her, "You ought to be hung!" Instead, Roger F. Bonanni got 2 to 14. "I don't have that money - any of it," Bonanni protested yesterday as most of his victims crammed into court to watch his sentencing. He said he had borrowed heavily from loan sharks. "I was paying exorbitant interest. That's how the whole thing got started. " Bonanni, ex-coin dealer and card shop owner, says he got into a financial hole by borrowing from loan sharks who were threatening his life.
NEWS
February 15, 1986 | By JIM SMITH, Daily News Staff Writer
Robert F. "Bobby" Simone, one of Philadelphia's best-known and most controversial criminal trial lawyers, has admitted owing $2.6 million in back taxes, interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service. But it's likely to be a long time, if ever, before the IRS collects a sizable piece of the debt. Although Simone, who often represents reputed mob figures, is managing to meet his current income taxes, "he still doesn't have the ability to pay" the back taxes, said his attorney, Robert E. Madden.
NEWS
January 17, 1997 | By Julia Martinez, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A Narberth dentist charged with evading taxes for more than 15 years was sentenced to four months in a community detention facility yesterday after a federal judge concluded that he was entitled to a lighter sentence because he suffered from a "mental impairment. " U.S. District Judge Marjorie O. Rendell could have sentenced Burton Rosen to 18 months in prison but imposed the lighter sentence after reviewing psychiatric reports. Rendell said that Rosen, 66, had an anxiety disorder that caused the impairment.
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NEWS
June 13, 2015 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
Hatchet chops to the wrist, hammer blows to the fingers, and, if all else failed, menacing promises of visits from "Italian friends" in New York were among the threats deployed by a violent Albanian loan-sharking and gambling operation run out of a Mayfair bar. But as the group's leader, Ylli Gjeli, 49, was sentenced Thursday to 14 years in prison on federal racketeering conspiracy charges, he insisted that he - and not his borrowers - was the true...
NEWS
December 22, 2013 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA The photo of Joseph Ligambi, taken at a mob associate's wedding three years ago, captured the reputed mob boss in less troubled times. Decked out in a dark suit and tie, and surrounded by a dozen close friends and family members at the Curtis Center, his face bore a smile not often seen in recent days in a federal courtroom here. But what that image meant, and its potential implications for Ligambi's criminal case, was the subject of testimony Friday as his racketeering retrial ended its sixth week.
NEWS
August 25, 2013 | BY MENSAH M. DEAN, Daily News Staff Writer deanm@phillynews.com, 215-568-8278
THEY TOOK in stacks of untraceable money running a loan-sharking and gambling organization that bullied its customers into paying up by threatening to break their legs and to have them and relatives killed, officials say. But the business is now closed, and the nine people alleged to have run it were indicted yesterday on a slew of racketeering charges, federal officials in Philadelphia announced. "We will not tolerate this type of criminal activity that preys upon financial weakness and threatens the physical safety of the individuals in debt and their innocent family members," U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said.
NEWS
August 25, 2013 | By Alfred Lubrano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Nine members of an Albanian-run gang from Northeast Philadelphia that specialized in loan-sharking and illegal gambling - backed by intimidation with a gun and a hatchet - were arrested Friday morning, federal officials said. All nine appeared in federal court Friday afternoon in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne A. Sitarski, who set an arraignment for Wednesday. The men were to be held in custody until then. The defendants, allegedly led by Northeast residents Ylli Gjeli, 48, and Fatimir Mustafaraj, 41, were indicted on racketeering, extortion, and other charges and are accused of running a criminal enterprise that federal authorities said thrived for more than a decade.
NEWS
June 26, 2013 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The increasingly hostile debate playing out in the Capitol over payday lending may not reach biblical proportions, but the conflict is emerging as a saints vs. sinners struggle over working class access to cash. Religious groups are leading efforts to snuff out newly revived legislation to legalize payday lending - the short-term, high-interest loans for people with no credit and no ability to obtain traditional bank loans. Citing Scripture, they have characterized these storefront lenders - which closed up shop in Pennsylvania after a state Supreme Court ruling in 2010 set interest rates so low that the business was no longer profitable - as predators on the poor.
NEWS
June 14, 2013
A 37-year-old South Jersey man pleaded guilty Thursday to loan sharking on behalf of the Philadelphia mob, federal prosecutors said. Robert Ranieri, of Glendora, admitted that he conspired with Philadelphia mobster Anthony Staino and others to make a usurious loan to an undercover FBI agent and then threatened violence to collect on the loan, according to federal prosecutors. Ranieri's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25 and he faces a maximum 40 years in prison. - Robert Moran
NEWS
February 26, 2013 | By Sam Wood, PHILLY.COM
A North Jersey mobster, who admitted to participating in the affairs of Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra, was sentenced today to a 55 month term in federal prison. Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini, 45, pleaded guilty in October to a racketeering conspiracy charge linked to a mob-controlled gambling and loan-sharking operation. A self-described "made" member of the mob, Fazzini, of Caldwell, operated a sports bookmaking business and ran a social club in northern New Jersey where illegal gambling on card and dice games occurred regularly.
NEWS
December 14, 2012
I DON'T BELONG to the American Bar Association because, years ago, the national umbrella group for my profession announced that it supported abortion rights. Not that anyone was really asking. Not that it was particularly relevant to the business of lawyering. Not that a statistical consensus had been reached as in, "Hi, my name is Trixie and I know I'm interrupting your dinner but, um, can I ask you a few questions about abortion?" The ABA simply came out and announced that it strongly supported Roe v. Wade . As soon as I found that out, I sent the money I would have paid in membership dues to several pro-life organizations.
NEWS
June 27, 2011 | By George Anastasia, Inquirer Staff Writer
Reputed South Jersey mob leader Anthony Staino, arrested on racketeering charges last month, once told an associate that he was a member of the "board of directors" and the "chief financial officer" for the crime family headed by Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, according to federal prosecutors. Unfortunately for Staino, the "associate" was an FBI agent posing as a man named "Dino" who had borrowed money from the mob. In a conversation in 2004, Staino was trying to explain how important it was that the debt be repaid, according to an indictment unsealed May 23. So he let Dino know who he was and at another point told him: "Please, on my life, I like you. I don't want to have to [expletive]
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