John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark
According to Mrs. Craft, the injustice for her started in the halls of the
The hastily written handwritten document Mearan drew up listed $3,000 on one line for Lester and on the next line an additional $1000 for him, presumably as interest.
$1,000 is 33% of $3,000, but since the O.R.C. stipulates that interest is calculated per annum, the interest on Lester’s loan was actually 66%. As a reader of RiverVices who works in the banking industry pointed out in an email he sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Ohio Revised Code limits the percentage of interest that can be charged on a loan. Ohio Revised Code 2905.21-H defines criminal usury as “illegally charging, taking, or receiving any money or other property as interest or an extension of credit at a rate exceeding twenty-five per annum or the equivalent rate for a longer or shorter period . . .” (At the time Lester made the loan, the legal limit was 21% interest.) The website Usurylaw.com claims that if a personal loan agreement above the O.R.C. interest limit “is brought before a court in that state, the agreement will be declared illegal. The net effect of such a judicial declaration is that the loan agreement will be voided. Once voided by the court, it no longer is enforceable. In other words, the borrower will no longer be obliged to make payments pursuant to the loan agreement. The borrower is off the proverbial hook.” If this statement is correct, the whole long process by which Mrs. Craft lost her home was illegal from the start. The question of whether Mrs. Craft and her son subsequently signed a deed transferring their property to Joe Lester or his assignee would be moot.
If Mrs. Craft could take Mearan and Lester to court, as Karadzic and Senator Stevens are being taken to court, she might presumably find a measure of justice. But lawyers cost money, a lot more than she gets from Social Security each month. After talking with a minister, she came up with the idea of appealing to the public by placing collection jars in stores and businesses, but the sheriff’s office told her raising money that way was panhandling, which is against the law.
Against the law! If only she can raise the money to hire an attorney to take her case, perhaps she can get the courts to enforce the law against criminal usury. There is a more familiar name for criminal usury: it is called loan sharking. Whether Mrs. Craft was a victim of criminal usury, or loan sharking, is something that could, that should, be settled in court.