New York Federal Loan Extortion Lawyer
Extortion is generally defined as the crime of wrongfully obtaining property from another by using an express or implied threat of force, violence, or reputational harm. In the context of the creation or collection of a loan, this crime is punished in federal courts by three different statutes: Making Extortionate Extensions of Credit (18 U.S.C. § 892), Financing Extortionate Extensions of Credit (18 U.S.C. § 893), and the Collection of Extensions of Credit by Extortionate Means (18 U.S.C. § 894).
These crimes are extremely serious, with maximum sentences of 20 years imprisonment available for each. Worse, these charges are frequently accompanied by other serious allegations, such as racketeering or assault. Given the potentially grave consequences of a conviction for federal loan extortion in New York, it is imperative that an individual charged with this crime immediately retain criminal attorneys who have previously – and successfully – defended against these charges in federal court.
What are the Elements of a Federal Extortion Charge?
There are several elements that comprise a federal loan extortion charge. First, the alleged victim must have been led to believe, either by direct or indirect means, that nonpayment would result in harm to them or their good standing.
The prosecution must further establish that the accused party deliberately tried to make, finance, or collect extensions of credit by means of threats or force. If the prosecution cannot establish that the accused acted knowingly, whether by circumstantial or non-circumstantial facts, the burden of proof to reach a conviction may not be met.
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 892, when someone makes any extortionate extension of credit they may receive a fine and/or imprisoned by a maximum of 20 years. The making of an extension of credit is defined as the creation or renewing of any loan or agreement whereby the repayment of any debt will be deferred. See 18 U.S.C. § 891(1). An extortionate extension of credit is one made with the understanding that a delay or failure to make repayment “could result in the use of violence or other criminal means to cause harm to the [body], reputation or property of any person.” 18 U.S.C. § 891(6). Therefore, to prove that an extension of credit was extortionate in nature, the government must establish that the debtor believed at the time the loan was made that his non-payment would result in this harm. See United States v. Madori, 419 F.3d 159, 167 (2d Cir. 2005) (“the government must establish that the debtor understood at the inception of the loan that a threat of violence existed”).
Further, the debtor’s understanding concerning the harm for non-payment may be based on either an express or implied threat from the creditor according to 18 U.S.C. § 891(7). Because implied threats may be difficult to prove in court, the statute lists several factors that may establish the existence of an extortionate loan. Some of these factors are that:
- Repayment of the debt would be unenforceable by civil judicial process
- The extension of credit was made at an interest rate exceeding 45 percent per year
- The debtor reasonably believed that extortionate means would be used to punish non-repayment of the debt given the debtor’s knowledge of the creditor’s previous loan collections.
This subsection creates a “permissive inference or presumption … which allows … the trier of fact to infer” that an extortionate extension of credit was made. See United States v. Curcio, 712 F.2d 1532, 1540 (2d Cir. 1983).
Additional Offenses Involving the Extortion of Credit
Next, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 893, whoever finances an extortionate extension of credit may be punished by up to 20 years imprisonment. An individual may be charged with this crime regardless of whether the money was advanced as a loan, gift, investment, or even pursuant to a partnership agreement – as long as “reasonable grounds [exist] to believe” that the money was advanced directly or indirectly for the purpose of making an extortionate extension of credit. See 18 U.S.C. § 893.
Lastly, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 894, whoever knowingly uses or conspires to use extortionate means in the collection of any extension of credit – or punishment for the non-payment thereof – may be imprisoned by up to 20 years. Here, for the purposes of establishing that an implicit threat of violence existed, prosecutors are permitted to introduce evidence that other collections by this creditor – to the debtor’s knowledge – were accomplished by utilizing extortionate means.
If direct evidence of the debtor’s knowledge is not available, then the court, in its own discretion, may permit the government to introduce evidence of the defendant’s reputation in the community for violence or other criminal acts in order to establish the defendant’s extortionate intent. E.g., United States v. DeVincent, 632 F.2d 147, 151-52 (1st Cir. 1980); United Spears, 568 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1978).
How Can a Federal Crimes Attorney Get Loan Extortion Charges Dismissed?
As with any other federal charge, there are a variety of defenses that may achieve a successful dismissal. If there is insufficient proof in a federal loan extortion case, such as when the prosecution is unable to establish that the accused acted with full intent, their New York attorney may move for a dismissal. Mitigation of a federal loan extortion charge also may be possible. For instance, if an attorney can show that the accused was coerced to act as they did or did not have the cognitive capacity to engage in the extortionate act, a mitigation of their sentence may be achievable.
Hire an Experienced New York Federal Loan Extortion Attorney
An experienced New York federal loan extortion lawyer could offer legal guidance when facing serious charges such as these. Our team could protect your legal rights and become your advocate. To get started on your case, schedule a consultation with a top attorney from our firm.