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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Former Debt Counselor Charged With Fraud

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today the filing of a Criminal Information in U.S. District Court in Scranton charging Timothy Turner, age 36, of Shavertown, Pennsylvania, with a fraud scheme utilizing the United States Mails.

     According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, Turner allegedly held himself out as a mortgage consultant, financial consultant, debt relief consultant and/or credit repair consultant with a local business office in Kingston, Pennsylvania.  Turner, conducting business under the following corporate and fictitious entity names: The Turner Financial Company, LLC; The Turner Financial Co., LLC; In-Motion Debt Relief; Turner Approved Mortgage; and The Mortgage Modification Consultants.

     Turner allegedly devised a scheme to defraud a victim of funds the victim provided Turner who offered debt relief services which included offers to assist the victim in negotiating settlements with credit card companies.

     Turner allegedly offered to negotiate settlements with the creditors for approximately 40% of what was owed when the victim’s escrow account reached a sufficient balance. Part was to go into an "escrow account" to be used to satisfy the victim’s outstanding debts, and a separate portion was to go to Turner for his services.

     The Information alleges that Turner comingled client funds with company funds and converted the client funds for his own use. Turner allegedly deposited the victim’s funds into an account and then promptly divided it among other business accounts. During a 15-month period between August 1, 2008 through October 31, 2009, Turner made purchases of a personal nature utilizing the victim’s funds.  Turner obtained from the victim approximately $23,600 of which Turner claimed that approximately $16,000 were his fees with the remainder allegedly deposited in the "escrow account." Turner allegedly did not settle any of the victim’s credit card debt nor negotiate any settlement; he allegedly closed the business, and moved out of state without reimbursing the victim.

     The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service.  Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney John Gurganus.

     Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

     A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

     In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Updated April 17, 2015