Orson Benn, a former VP of subprime lender Argent Mortgage is off to prison for 18 years. Argent was one of Ameriquest’s divisions. Although it doesn’t do much for homeowners, it is nice to see something has happened. Remember, if you will, that George Bush named Ameriquest’s owner, Roland Arnall, as ambassador to The Netherlands. Some say Ameriquest settled charges of predatory lending so Arnall would be confirmed as ambassador. In 2005, Ameriquest Capital and three of its subsidiaries comprised four of the 53 entities that each contributed the maximum of $250,000 to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush.
So what happened to Orson Benn? A Circuit Court jury convicted Benn in connection with 130 loans worth about $13 million in Hillsborough, Lee, Pinellas and Polk counties in Florida.
In 1996, Ameriquest agreed to pay $3 million into an “educational fund” to settle a Justice Department lawsuit accusing it of gouging and predatory lending practices against older, female, and minority borrowers.
On 1 August 2005, Ameriquest announced that it would set aside $325 million to settle attorney-general investigations in 30 states. In at least five of those states—California, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Florida—Ameriquest had already settled multimillion-dollar suits. Again, the charges included predatory lending.
There was nothing nice about Mr. Benn, Argent, nor Ameriquest. Only two companies were targets of nationwide predatory lending suits. They were Household International and Ameriquest. Very few will miss them.