On April 20, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an order denying a petition for writ of certiorari from Delaware attorney Wheeler Neff, who previously was convicted for assisting American Indian tribes that offer loans with interest rates in excess of what was permitted under state law.
Neff and co-defendant Charles Hallinan were charged with putting the names of three Indian tribes on high-interest loans to allegedly evade state usury laws. Neff was found guilty and given an eight-year prison sentence in May 2018, while Hallinan received a 14-year sentence.
Neff requested that the Supreme Court address whether jury instructions stating that tribal immunity did not extend to their criminal prosecutions was a reversible error. The Third Circuit previously had held that tribal immunity did not “transfigure debts that are otherwise unlawful under RICO into lawful ones.” United States v. Neff, 787 Fed. Appx. 81, 92 (3d Cir. 2019). The Third Circuit also had held that tribal immunity “might stymie a state civil enforcement action or consumer suit,” but that does not stop the state from prosecuting offenders of the statute, thereby holding that state prosecution could go forward. Id. (citing Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Cmty., 572 U.S. 782, 796 (2014).)
The Supreme Court declined to review the matter further, meaning that the Third Circuit’s decision remains intact.