Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pro-Prosecution Inky Denounces Payday Loan Defendants During Trial

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The Philadelphia Inquirer is typically pro-prosecution.

It's something that defendants in a long line of corruption cases can attest to, such as Vince Fumo, Chaka Fattah, the so-called rogue cops, former L&I Inspector Dominic Verdi, the Traffic Court judges, state Senator Larry Farnese, etc.

The Inquirer's usual pattern is to trumpet the allegations of prosecutors as proven facts, which can be a problem when it comes to the presumption of innocence. It's also troublesome if the defendants in these corruption cases are actually found not guilty at trial, as with the rogue cops, Verdi, and Farnese. After all, that's why they play the games, because sometimes the underdogs win.

But on Monday, the Inky did something new in the war on defendants in corruption cases: they actually denounced a couple of defendants on the editorial page while they were on trial for their lives. While  their fates were actually in the hands of a jury.

In the case of payday lending pioneer Charles Hallinan, and his lawyer, Wheeler K. Neff, the Inquirer blasted both of them on the editorial page under a headline that said, "Why payday loan sharks should be arrested and tried."

In the case of Hallinan and Neff, a business man and his lawyer have been hit with a RICO indictment as the government is attempting to criminalize the previously tolerated practice of payday lending.

It's something for a jury to decide, whether payday lending should indeed be criminalized. But the Inquirer editorial board already has the whole thing figured out.

In case you missed it, in the editorial that was originally written on Oct. 13 and updated on Monday, Oct. 16, the Inquirer wrote:

"It is a relief to see federal prosecutors and regulators finally cracking down on payday lenders. While the moves are past due, it is unclear if the prosecutions will be enough to deter a sleazy industry if tough new restrictions will last.

"Payday lending is simply a genial term for loansharking. Lenders make short-term loans to cash-strapped individuals at exorbitant interest rates that can top 800 percent. The high-cost loans leave borrowers, often already living on the edge, deeper in debt or even bankrupt.

"That's why it was good to see federal prosecutors bring racketeering and conspiracy charges against one of the biggest payday lenders in the region, Charles Hallinan, owner of MyNextPaycheck and more than two dozen other loan companies . . .

"Hallinan and codefendant Wheeler K. Neff, his longtime legal counsel, are credited with developing dubious strategies that helped turn payday lending into a multibillion-dollar industry by partnering with sovereign American Indian tribes to evade state-imposed interest-rate caps . . .

"Regardless of the outcome of Hallinan and Neff's trial," the newspaper editorial concluded, "more prosecutions and regulation are needed to stop payday lending abuses."

The newspaper also ran a photo of Hallinan with the editorial. The only thing they forgot to do was to tell the jury to convict the defendants.

On Monday, faced with prejudicial publicity, the judge in the case, at the behest of defense lawyers, called a halt to the trial to question jurors about whether they had seen the editorial. The judge asked for a show of hands but nobody had read or would admit to reading the editorial.

It's standard jury instructions for jurors to be told not to read anything about the case they are sitting in judgment on. But jurors will tell you that it's nearly impossible to tune out the media in the age of the Internet and social media.

Defense lawyers in the payday lending case declined comment, and the trial, which began last month, resumed. It's expected to be finished by the end of this month.


  1. Thanks for mentioning the Traffic Court Judges who were fighting for their lives as well, regarding at best ethical decisions, when the prosecution was guilty of criminal actions. At trial it was discovered that the prosecution lied to the grand jury to get the indictments, the Inky missed that part and stuck with the prosecution's lies .

    A judicial ethics board exists that could have handled such ethical issues or complaints but the Supreme Court chose not to go that route and chose instead to indict MOST of the Traffic Court Judges as a political payback,as well as making work for their friends at 6th and Market.

    This is the America we live in, send everyone to prison, shame and disgrace individuals and ruin their lives, bankrupt and tear families apart. No one talks, we just indict. It makes headlines, sells papers and it satisfied the public's thirst to blame and ridicule.

    Its unacceptable in any instance to disgrace another individual but obviously the Inky believes it's their jobs to disgrace public officials.

    Life is cheap in America, we do not have the freedoms we believed we had, when the Inky says you're guilty, you're guilty.

    1. Give it a break about the poor Traffic Court Judges.

      Ward Leaders and their surrogates were fixing cases and squashing tickets from the beginning of Traffic Court.

      Hopefully, Ralph's long awaited Tome on Vincenzo will explore the issue of his stacking the Court System with Judges bribed and manipulated for decades.

      Vince had a clear shot at taking control of the Inquirer and perhaps circumventing their dogged pursuit that brought him down.

      Can you argue that Vince was innocent of all charges and not part of many criminal conspiracies with Fat Eddie.

    2. If they were squashing tickets from the the beginning as you say, then why did the Supreme Court not do anything for 50 years and why were all the Judges not indicted ? Why just a few ? Because it coincided with a retirement of a Supreme Court Justice with a vendetta against Traffic Court.

      Anytime you want to go to jail for the rest of your life for an ethical violation, I can direct you to a few federal prosecutors that will put you away forever. Its cold and callous to think good people should go to jail forever for at best ethical violations . Most of the Judges served for only a few years prior to the inditmets, should they go to jail forever for everyone else's sins.

      One Judge was indicted on two tickets, most on just a few, one Judge was indicted on tickets he has nothing to do with and one he found the ticket holder guilty, yet he was indicted on that ticket. It should never have been a federal trial in the first place.

      Besides the prosecutors and the FBI agent on the case lied to the grand jury or doesn't that matter ? Had the coverage been accurate the region would know the truth about the prosecution, so don't go on about squashing tickets from the beginning of time, these people did not deserve to pay for the sins of others.

      I also look forward to the Fumo book, as I am sure many in the region are as well. Did not follow the trial and only discovered this blog in the last few years, so I would only know what the prosecution had to say about Fumo as I was getting my news from the Inky at that point.

  2. Why do we need a justice department when we already have the Inquirer, they act as judge and jury for the region. We can save billions and balance our budget woes overnight.

    Prisons will be packed,creating more jobs for the region, elected officials will serve at the will of the reporters. All directives will come directly from 801 Market St. Your life and liberty will depend on the whim of those hired by the the Inquirer.

    No need for defense attorneys either, whomever the Inquirer decides is guilty goes directly to prison. No need for a trial, all defendants can continue to plead guilty, no need to defend yourself ,no one would believe you anyway. Doomed by the Inquirer, doomed for life.

  3. Actually, I thought it was up to the legislature, not the jury, to determine "whether payday lending should indeed be criminalized."

    If there were loopholes in the law, then the payday lenders did not commit a crime, no matter how unethical it was.

  4. at SimpleInstallments: You must have proof of employment, usually 3-6 months with the same employer depending on the lender. Pay-stubs can prove this.


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