A former Minnesota debt collector was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in federal prison for stealing clients money and identities and threatening physical harm. In one case, he allegedly threatened to push a disabled veteran in a wheelchair off a bridge.
Khemall "Kenny" Jokhoo, 36, whose aliases include Kevin Smith, Kevin Day and Mike Lee, ran a one-man collection agency called First Financial Services from 2002 until November 2009.
He was indicted in December 2012 for bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud before Wednesday's sentence in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on 33 counts. Jokhoo, who mostly targeted the elderly, tried to steal more than $700,000 by using identities of more than 60 victims. An administrative law judge previously found that Jokhoo misrepresented himself as a lawyer, harassed debtors over extremely old, uncollectable accounts, made unauthorized withdrawals from debtors financial institutions, cashed forged checks and concealed a criminal record on at least seven state license applications since 2005.
U.S. District Judge David Doty said after 175 months in federal prison, Jokhoo will have five years of supervised release. Doty ordered Jokhoo to pay more than $257,000 in restitution, according to a spokesman for federal prosecutors.
Jokhoo was stripped of his collection and real estate licenses by the Department of Commerce, and fined $100,000 in May 2011 for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Allegations about Jokhoo's aggressive collection tactics originally surfaced in October 2007 when Eugene R. Myers of Janesville, Wis., sued him and his employer in federal court.
Myers said that Jokhoo had threatened to embarrass him by having him arrested and by serving him with court papers at the church where he worked. The defendants denied wrongdoing and quickly settled the case.
The complaints continued. Edwin Galestian of La Crescenta, Calif., said he reported Jokhoo to the police for unrelenting harassment. He said Jokhoo worked through a credit bureau to change Galestian's mailing address to Minnesota, though he's never been in the state.
A judge hearing Jokhoo's licensing case found that Jokhoo or someone working with him had tricked Galestian's bank into sending him a $40,000 check, that Galestian's signature had been forged and the check deposited in an account under Jokhoo's control. The signature on the check bore a strong resemblance to Jokhoo's writing, the judge noted.