NEW YORK — A businessman who ran a $220 million predatory payday lending operation that cheated over a half million people nationwide while he lived lavishly was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a judge who said he couldn't understand how a once honorable man could go so crooked.
"You were a man of great conviction and honor to age 60," U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos told Richard Moseley Sr. on Tuesday as he explained why he imposed the prison term. "How do you, after 60 years, become the person who runs this business?"
Moseley also must forfeit $49 million to make amends for running loan companies that exploited 620,000 of the most financially vulnerable people in the country. His companies had been charging interest rates as high as 700 percent or more using deceptive practices, including charging some people for loans they never requested, while he lived the high life, including a vacation home in Mexico, luxury cars and country club memberships.
Moseley, 73, of Kansas City, Missouri, was convicted last November of racketeering, fraud and identity theft for crimes committed while he ran the company between 2004 and 2014.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Imperatore called Moseley "a very rich man who stole from poor people."
"He was enormously greedy. He was arrogant," Imperatore said, explaining why prosecutors sought a sentence in excess of 15 years in prison.
Moseley told Ramos that he felt shame "for the harm my actions have caused people."
"Looking back, I am humiliated by my indifference to our customers," he said. "I should have tried harder. I should have loved my neighbor."
He said he had suffered physical and emotional pain, along with financial despair, in his life.
"Knowing I caused others that same pain leaves me very regretful," he said.
Prosecutors said Moseley made it appear that he was operating from the Caribbean or New Zealand as complaining customers and numerous state regulators and consumer protection groups closed in on his scandalous practices.
"You were playing whack-a-mole with the regulators," Ramos said.
The judge read aloud excerpts from the business plan that served as a blueprint for Moseley's businesses, saying there were numerous red flags that Moseley ignored.
"If this is a business plan, then it's a business plan for a criminal enterprise," he said.