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Local payday lender allowed to collect loans

August 1, 2006 - Mountain Home, Arkansas

A Mountain Home payday lending business that closed in July is allowed to continue collecting loans from its customers, even though it was operating without a state check-cashing license.

In March, the Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies contacted Robert Morgan of Morgan Cash Advance, informing him he had been operating without a check-cashing license, said Shelly Crippes, an investigator with the ASBCA.

Since the store quickly complied with the order, Morgan is allowed to collect on loans the business made before it closed, said Peggy Matson, executive director with the ASBCA division of check-cashers. He is not allowed to make new loans, she said.

The store, which was at 1106 Highway 62 East, closed July 7, said a woman who answered the phone earlier this month. The phone at the Mountain Home business was disconnected Monday, and Morgan could not be reached in Harrison by press time.

After the March investigation, the ASBCA fined Morgan $1,000 for operating two stores without a check-cashing license, Crippes said. On April 17, Morgan sent a letter via his attorney, Roger Morgan of Mountain Home, stating he was ceasing operations, Crippes said.

This is at least the second store in Mountain Home that has been closed because of failure to obtain a state check-cashing license.

In June, the ASBCA ordered all 14 of Dennis Bailey's businesses closed, including Fast Cash of Mountain Home, and fined him $1.3 million for operating without a license. The agency found that Bailey of Fordyce was operating 13 of his stores in violation of the law since January 2005, according to the agency's administrative order.

In administrative action, all transactions were deemed null and void because Bailey was violating state law and Fast Cash customers were advised to put stop payments on their checks, according to the ASBCA.

Fast Cash closed mid-July. Bailey's attorney appealed the order, stating it was in violation of the Constitution, and asked for a judge to review the decision. As of Monday, the judge has not set a hearing date, said Thomas Thrash, a Little Rock attorney who represents the state collection agency.

News Source

The Baxter Bulletin, Joanne Bratton, Bulletin Staff Writer

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