Philadelphia Cash-Advance Business Owner Indicted and Detained on Weapons Charges
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Joseph LaForte, 49, of Haverford, PA, was arrested and charged by Indictment with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.
The Indictment alleges that on July 28, 2020, the defendant, a twice-convicted felon, knowingly possessed seven firearms in his home: two shotguns, four loaded handguns, and a loaded rifle.
After the defendant was arrested on August 7, 2020, the Government moved for his detention on the grounds that he was both a risk of flight and a danger to the community. The Government cited, among other things, death threats that LaForte had allegedly made to the customers of his business, Par Funding, a cash advance company based in Philadelphia. After his appearance in federal court yesterday, United States Magistrate Judge Marilyn Heffley detained the defendant until his trial.
“We’re pleased that the Court recognized that no conditions of release would be sufficient here,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Joseph LaForte is where he belongs – in prison – and will now face the consequences of his alleged criminal behavior.”
“Joseph LaForte is a previously convicted felon who continues to demonstrate that he is a threat to the community,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. "This indictment is just another example of his disregard for the law.”
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of ten years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service, with assistance from the Lower Merion Township Police and the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Ortiz and Patrick J. Murray.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.