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Collection Agency Owner Indicted in Pay-To-Play Scandal

The owner of a Pennsylvania collection agency has been indicted on six counts of fraud for allegedly steering money to a county clerks in Illinois and Florida in exchange for debt collection accounts.

Donald Donagher Jr., the owner of Penn Credit, is accused of donating thousands of dollars to the campaign fund of Dorothy Brown, the Cook County [Ill.] Circuit Court Clerk, as well as paying $5,000 into the clerk’s scholarship and community development fund, and directing agency employees to make “hundreds of thousands” of robocalls to promote Brown’s campaigns.

A copy of the Department of Justice’s indictment can be accessed by clicking here.

Donagher’s lawyer, Theodore Poulos, said there were never any pay-to-play arrangements between his client, the collection agency, and the clerk’s office, according to a published report.

“The allegations against Donald Donagher and Penn Credit are false and the Department of Justice should not have brought this case,” Poulos said in a statement. “Mr. Donagher and Penn Credit acted legally and in good faith, and we will prove that in court.”

Less than three weeks after the agency began working for the county clerk’s office, Donagher sent an email to agency employees and lobbyists in which he allegedly promised Brown — referred to as Clerk A in the indictment — “10k of ‘early’ money,” and then followed that up with a donation of $10,000 to Brown’s campaign fund a month later.

Related to the robocalls, Donagher wanted to make sure that it resulted in his agency getting an equal share of collection work compared with a competitor, according to the indictment. “Just a reminder that we made a s***load of calls for [first name of Clerk A]. Have you received all of the numbers we requested to make sure everything is equal?”

Donagher also allegedly told employees and a lobbyist that he would “give as much plus a dollar” to Brown’s campaign compared with another collection agency, according to the indictment.

Separately, the day after a woman was elected Clerk of Orange County in 2014, Donagher allegedly sent the following email to company employees:

[Employee C], find out all you can about this woman. It seems the deal is that when people want deals to happen in orange county large contributions are made and then the deal happens the very next day. Look into that look into Facebook to see who her friends are look at all the articles in the Orlando Sentinel that involve these deals that she was involved in getting passed through the commissioners and find out who the lobbyist or public relations person was that put together all these deals, and packaged them up, put them before the commissioners and then head [sic.] [first name of Clerk C] rubberstamp them. We need to find that person and get him or her on our payroll.

We need to find out who her best friend/friends are and get them on the penn credit team before [name of competitor debt collection company] and [name of debt collection company with whom PENN CREDIT shared the contract in Orange County] and [name of another competing debt collection company] get to her first. Find out who her closet [sic.] political confidant is. We will move very quickly. We are talk huge amounts of profit here. [First name of Employee D] jump in here too with your ideas as well, this is one of your commission clients. Help yourself by helping us. This is war. Thank you.
Don

A month later, Donagher allegedly met with the woman who was elected clerk and gave her a check for $2,500, made out to a charity she selected.

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