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Payday lender lawyer sentenced to 8 years in prison

PHILADELPHIA- The lawyer who represented payday lenders accused of evading state regulations by using Native American tribes and a bank as fronts has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 69-year-old Wheeler Neff of Wilmington, Delaware was sentenced Friday on conspiracy and fraud convictions.

Neff represented 77-year-old Charles Hallinan, who is awaiting sentencing on conspiracy and fraud convictions.

Authorities said Hallinan charged astronomical interest rates of more than 700 per cent on the short-term loans in a “rent-a-tribe” and “rent a bank” scheme that netted his companies more than $688 million between 2008 and 2013.

Neff said Friday he believed then that his actions were legal and he never intended to harm anyone.

Pennsylvania and more than a dozen other states have passed laws that criminalize payday loans.

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