All American Check Cashing owner Michael Gray expects the Mississippi Department of Banking to renew his check cashing store license at the end of this month and close its investigation into illegal payday loan rollovers with no finding of wrongdoing.
Gray, in his first public comments since state regulators raided more than a dozen of his payday lending stores across the state, attributed his current woes to putting the wrong person in the wrong job.
He said he gave former chief administrative officer Alan Crancer the job of creating a company intranet that ultimately went unused by company managers and employees.
But when state regulators went looking for evidence of illegal loan rollovers, the intranet served up a huge helping of grief for Gray.
They found an October 2012 training document detailing how to trap borrowers whose incomes arrive monthly into 14-day cycles of debt.
Who wrote the document and who put it on the intranet?
Crancer will tell you a manager other than himself did it and that the company presented the rollover training at a manager’s session in Vicksburg in October 2012. Not so, insists Gray, who said the first he or any managers other than Crancer knew of the training document was when regulators found it in late June on All American’s intranet.
Apparently it stayed there unnoticed since the fall of 2012, according to Gray. “Not one time did I ever go there,” he said of the intranet.
Gray said he approved creation of the intranet as a portal for making personnel forms and other information available to 200 employees and managers spread across the 41 stores in the state. It never caught on, he said. It was “to be like a shed behind the house where you put everything,” but hardly anyone used it, he said.
However, “several layers deep” lay the incriminating training document, he added.
A series of state audits the company passed with compliance in 2013 and 2014 confirm employees of All American did not carry out the practices detailed in the document, according to Gray.
Even if state audits didn’t find the practices, “My auditor and my supervisors and my operations people would have caught rollovers if they were happening,” he said.
And “if the state Department of Banking found they were S.O.P., I wouldn’t be sitting here with a company still operating,” added Gray, who worked for UPS for 10 years before starting All American with the opening of a single store in Madison a decade-and-a-half ago.
He said the state audits which he noted found 100 percent compliance this year and last year included 27 unannounced examinations.
Crancer, whom Gray blames for All American’s current troubles, wants two years of pay and health insurance as a wrongful termination settlement. Not going to happen, Gray said.
“When you don’t do stuff wrong you don’t put up with stuff like this.”