September 8, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - Their missions were admirable: Boost education programs for Philadelphia schoolchildren and provide college scholarships. But according to federal prosecutors and an Aug. 27 plea deal with Gregory Naylor, a longtime political aide to Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), the two nonprofits founded by the congressman were also conduits in a scheme using federal funds to secretly repay an illegal campaign loan. The plea lays out a sweeping conspiracy that prosecutors say involves former aides to the 10-term Philadelphia congressman and two charities he has long promoted and supported with taxpayer dollars.
September 1, 2014 |
One was a kid from the hardscrabble Abbottsford Homes in East Falls who rose to become a millionaire member of America's financial elite. Another is a foul-mouthed, sneaker-wearing, high school dropout who built a political consulting business with clients who included a long-shot Illinois U.S. Senate candidate named Barack Obama. A third is a hard-driving genius at Philadelphia ward politics steeped in the arcane arts of street money, ballot-cutting, and get-out-the-vote drives.
August 29, 2014 |
WHO IS "Person D?" That has been the hot question in political and legal circles since a longtime aide to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah admitted in federal court Wednesday that he lied to investigators to conceal an illegal $1 million loan to Fattah's 2007 campaign for mayor of Philadelphia. A source familiar with the investigation said yesterday the man who made that loan - identified as "Person D" in federal documents - is believed to be Albert "Al" Lord, the former CEO of Sallie Mae, the giant student loan financing corporation.
August 22, 2014 |
The Delaware River Port Authority postponed action Wednesday on a measure that would have allowed commissioners and staffers subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to choose their own lawyers. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who chaired the meeting, did not explain to fellow commissioners why the item was withdrawn from the agenda. It appeared, however, that the board would have lacked a quorum for a vote because the subpoenaed commissioners would have had to recuse themselves. While the authority would pay for the legal representation, DRPA deputy chief executive Michael Conallen said it was unclear if those under subpoena must use only authority-approved law firms that have agreed to a ceiling on their fees.
July 25, 2014
I VOLUNTEER at a correctional institution for women. During one financial-literacy class, I was struck by something that was disturbing two inmates who were scheduled to be released within the next two years. They were worried about defaulted student loans. Once out of prison, they feared that if they found a job, debt collectors would come after their paychecks. They were concerned that late fees, additional interest and other collection costs would make it impossible for them to get out of default.
July 11, 2014
SOME GOOD THINGS are going on in the economy these days. Just like temperatures across the country, the stock market has been hot lately. The economy added 288,000 jobs in June. Unemployment dropped to 6.1 percent. Yet plenty of Americans still need financial help, especially with mortgages. We can't lose sight of these people, because they are vulnerable to predators peddling loan-modification fixes. Barbara Floyd Jones, senior manager of national homeownership programs at NeighborWorks America, said loan-modification scams are on the rise.
June 20, 2014 |
Fifteen years ago, fleeing civil war in his native Sri Lanka, Selvadurai Pathmatasan was admitted to America as an asylee. A natural entrepreneur, he invested in a gas station, and several years later used $30,000 in profits to open a mini-mart on Third Street near Market Street in Old City. In addition to snacks, his best-sellers were sepia-toned, Revolutionary-era replica documents. His prime customers: Independence Mall tourists. That was in 2008. "Any business needs time to establish," he said of the decision to open in the teeth of the recession.
June 20, 2014 |
SITTING IN HIS little souvenir shop on 3rd Street between Market and Chestnut in Old City, Selvadurai Pathmathasan said he's thankful that his "dream business" has stayed afloat. The Sri Lanka native known to customers as Bob, 42, came to this country 15 years ago (first living in New York, then Wilmington, Del., and now Philadelphia). While in the U.S., he was granted asylum based on his being part of the ethnic-minority Tamils, who faced persecution and violence in Sri Lanka, he said.
June 13, 2014
WHEN interest rates go down, many people with outstanding loans - house, car, home equity - start looking around at refinancing options. Unless your debt is a student loan, in which case federal law places you in a different category from the rest of the borrowing public and sticks you with the original loan rate. This week, a proposal to fix that, by Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, was defeated in the Senate. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act was a fine and fair idea, but Warren's bill would have imposed a minimum tax on the wealthiest Americans, an approach that stirred opposition and made it a long shot to pass.
May 13, 2014 |
If you need a loan, your 401(k) might seem like the perfect emergency fund. But financial planners advise exhausting all other sources before taking money out of your retirement fund. The pros and cons of 401(k) loans boil down to one fact - it's easy. "It's actually too easy," says Kathleen Connelly, executive vice president of client services at retirement-plan and record-keeping firm Ascensus in Dresher. Pros: You make interest payments to your own account when you repay the loan.