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What you need to know for 07/25/2017

Alleged loan shark quits job working for state

Alleged loan shark quits job working for state

A state employee has resigned amid accusations of loan sharking to fellow employees and soliciting s

A state employee has resigned amid accusations of loan sharking to fellow employees and soliciting sexual favors in exchange for forgiving debts, state officials said Thursday.

Alan R. West, 47, of Albany, is accused of extending at least $13,000 in loans to employees of the state Higher Education Services Corporation from 1999 to 2008, according to the state inspector general’s office.

No criminal charges have been filed.

West used state e-mail to conduct his business, collecting interest on loans of $20 to $3,000 at the corporation, according to officials. The corporation itself guarantees loans and gives financial assistance to college students and their families.

West allegedly collected money in stairwells or on the loading dock, scheduling repayments on state payday.

The rates West charged were as high as 182 percent, officials said. In that case, the employee owed $3,000 and paid 7 percent interest, compounded biweekly, adding up to the exorbitant annual rate.

Under state law, anyone who charges more than 25 percent annual interest without legal authorization is guilty of usury, a felony, officials said.

The inspector general’s findings have been forwarded to the Albany County District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges.

The investigation also found that West solicited sexual favors from one borrower to offset $150 in interest owed on a $3,000 loan, officials said. Some corporation e-mails indicate that co-workers may have given West illegal drugs to reduce their debt, according to officials.

West, a customer service representative with a salary of $37,469, resigned his state job during the inspector general’s investigation.

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