Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pawn Shop Loan Shark Sentenced for Extortion

A former Palm Beach County resident was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison for charging an undocumented worker an annual interest rate of 180% on a $10,000.00 loan.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office, made the announcement.

The evidence at trial revealed that in September 2009, Francisco Aletto, Sr., 60, worked at a pawn shop in Boca Raton, Florida. An undocumented worker entered the pawn shop to pawn a gold chain for his gas station business located nearby. Instead of accepting the chain as collateral, Aletto loaned the worker $10,000 and charged him $375 interest per week (180% annually). After the worker made several weekly payments, Aletto introduced him to several of Aletto’s friends who subsequently loaned the victim an additional $30,000. After 13 months, the victim paid over $57,000 in interest and lost to Aletto a 2004 Dodge Ram truck on a $3,000 pawn. When the victim was unable to continue to pay the mounting debt, Aletto and his friends threatened to kill him. Based on information received from a confidential source, the FBI located the victim and prevented him from being harmed. Four of Aletto’s accomplices have pled guilty and also have been sentenced for their roles in making and collecting extortionate extensions of credit.

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