Debt-reduction scam gets Tucson man 13 years in prison

2011-11-08T17:02:00Z Debt-reduction scam gets Tucson man 13 years in prisonKim Smith, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 08, 2011 5:02 pm  • 

Pima County Superior Court Judge Clark Munger told Gary Kent Allan that he didn’t buy the effort to portray himself as a “good guy” whose business practices merely didn’t work.

Good guys don’t go to prison, Munger said before telling Allan, 62, he will spend the next 13 1/2 years behind bars.

Allan convinced people who were in dire financial straits to hire him to negotiate with their creditors, refinance their mortgages, make payments on their behalf and reduce their debt, according to court documents.

Allan was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for fraud, plus seven years of probation. The extra year will be served in the Pima County jail as a condition of probation. Munger also ordered Allan to pay eight victims a total of $267,198 in restitution.

Operating as Christian Credit Consultants, Allan advertised at churches and in Christian business directories, encouraging people to hire them by saying “Stress and worry take the place of peace and contentment, which hinders our walk with the Lord and His will and destiny for our lives.”

Allan siphoned more than $267,000 for himself, causing several of his customers to lose their homes and life savings, Assistant Attorney General Michael Jette said.

Allan was indicted in April 2010 on charges pertaining to two couples, but Jette said in court documents even after he was charged, “without pause, the defendant continued his business, advertised more prominently, and began to withdraw funds from victims’ bank accounts more aggressively.”

Allan, who also goes by Gary Kent Harrison, was indicted on subsequent charges one year later, after an undercover operation and more victims came forward.

Monday’s sentencing resolved both indictments.

In one instance, a couple hired Allan after their 17-year-old daughter was paralyzed in an accident that almost took her life. The wife quit her job to care for the girl around-the-clock and their medical and other bills piled up. The couple thought Allan would answer their “literal prayers for financial relief,” Jette said.

The couple ended up losing their home and savings because Allan withdrew $1,000 a month from their bank account for several months but had made no attempt to re-negotiate with their creditors or pay anything toward their bills. In addition, he wrote a $5,000 check to himself off their account, Jette said.

As with Allan’s other victims, he had told the couple not to pay any of their loans or speak directly to their creditors, Jette said.

Defense attorneys Chris Kimminau and Michael Carrillo told Munger their client was doing what he promised his clients he was going to do, but it didn’t always work out. Not all of the financial difficulties of his clients’ were caused by Allan alone, Kimminau said.

They pleaded for a five-year prison sentence, noting Allan’s age and ill health.

“It wasn’t a facade. It wasn’t a means to take from people,” Carrillo said of the business. “He went into it with the best of intentions.”

Munger imposed the highest sentence possible under Allan’s plea agreement, noting Allan’s lengthy criminal history, the fact there were multiple victims, some of whom were elderly and vulnerable. He also cited the fact Allan used religion in his scheme.

“No one should be victimized by fraud, let alone in the guise of religious fellowship,” Jette said after the hearing. “But, we’ll prosecute you either way.”

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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