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Two convicted in payday loan cases

May 19, 2006 - Bainbridge, Georgia

Two people were convicted in Superior Court this week of making high-interest payday loans in violation of Georgia law, District Attorney Joe Mulholland said.

Mulholland said these are the state's first felon convictions under the state's new payday lending law.

John Dunlap, 63, of Colquitt, Ga., and Nathaniel Glenn, 57, of Brinson, were each convicted of violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and violating the Georgia Payday Lending Law.

Dunlap was the owner of First Cash Title Pawn, located at 905 E. Shotwell St.; Glenn was the owner of Money Now, located at 1009 Dothan Road.

Both Dunlap and Glenn received 16-year probated sentences from Superior Court Chief Judge Wallace Cato and were each ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Two employees of First Cash Title Pawn-Bobbie Smith, 21, of Bainbridge, and Shirley Frazier, 31, of Cairo, Ga.-and Bobbi Jo Glenn, 49, of Brinson, an employee of Money Now, had also been indicted. Their cases were dismissed after they agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, Mulholland said.

The cases went to trial in November 2005 and on Dec. 21, Superior Court Chief Judge Wallace Cato requested briefs from the defendants and prosecutors. After reviewing the briefs, Cato found the two men guilty on May 16, Mulholland said.

Mulholland and local police began investigating the records of five businesses that offered payday loans in September 2004 to see whether they violated a Georgia law that took effect in 2004. The law prohibits businesses from charging interest rates greater than 16 percent per year on loans valued at $3,000 or less, according to Mulholland. He said all five of the businesses' records showed they charged excessively high interest rates, in some cases as much as 300-500 percent. The businesses made hundreds of loans while operating in Decatur County, police investigator James Spooner Jr. said previously.

Police arrested employees of four of the five businesses in the fall of 2004. Two businesses, identified as Cash 2 You, of 1041 E. Evans St., and Kool Kash, of 1235 E. Shotwell St., agreed to shut down their operation within the area served by Mulholland in November 2004.

One payday lending business, First American Cash Advance, 1509 E. Shotwell St., was investigated by BPS but was not prosecuted because of a legal loophole, Mulholland said. Mulholland said he understood from Attorney General Thurbert Baker that First American Cash Advance planned to shut down its Georgia operations after being forced to modify its business plan.

All the other businesses had shut down following the arrests in the fall of 2004.

Mulholland said people who obtained payday loans from First Cash Title Pawn and Money Now may be eligible to file civil lawsuits to recover some of the money they paid in interest.

News Source

The Post-Searchlight, Brennan Leathers, News Writer

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