NEW YORK – Professional racing driver Scott Tucker was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison on Friday after his conviction for running a payday loan company that prosecutors say has deceived millions of financially troubled Americans.
US District Judge P. Kevin Castel said the number of people affected by Tucker’s cases was “staggering” across the country.
Over a period of 15 years, more than 1% of the American population fell victim to the company, Castel said in sentencing Tucker to 16 years and eight months in prison.
The judge said the business was “a fraud from the start” and a scam “to extract money from people in desperate circumstances.” He added that it “created heartache and heartache… not just financial loss.”
In a letter to court, Tucker, 55, of Leawood, Kansas, defended his business practices and suggested he was misunderstood.
Castel ordered him to start serving his sentence immediately, and he was taken from court in handcuffs, but only after removing his suspenders.
Timothy Muir, 46, an attorney from Overland, Kansas, was sentenced to seven years in prison for his conviction in the same trial in October as Tucker.
Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Loughnane said in a statement that the business the men ran from at least 1997 to 2013 is now closed.
“For more than 15 years, Scott Tucker and Timothy Muir have made billions of dollars exploiting struggling ordinary Americans with payday loans with interest rates of up to 1,000 percent,” he said. she declared. “And to hide their criminal ploy, they tried to pretend that their business was owned and operated by Native American tribes.”
Prosecutors said Tucker’s loan company, based in Overland Park, Kansas, employed more than 1,500 people as it operated under the names of Ameriloan, Cash Advance, OneClickCash, Preferred Cash Loans, United Cash Loans, US FastCash, 500 FastCash, Advantage Cash Services and Star Cash Processing. .
They said Tucker, who hasn’t raced professionally for several years, and Muir, the company’s general counsel, charged interest rates ranging from 600% to over 1,000%, generating over 3 , $ 5 billion in revenue from 2008 to June 2013 alone.
The loans have gone to more than 4.5 million struggling people in all 50 states, the government said.
He said the jury saw evidence that many loans were made in states, including New York, with laws banning loans at the exorbitant interest rates charged by Tucker and that the company provided scripts to its employees to read to people who complained that the loans were illegal. .
In his letter to the judge, Tucker begged for mercy but defended his intentions.
“I have remorse, Your Honor, for not having succeeded in displaying, transmitting and living up to the vision I had. I have remorse, Your Honor, that I left one person with the mistaken impression that I do not recognize my responsibility to live as a good and fair businessman, employer and American citizen “, a- he writes.
He also said the legal process had “taken its toll,” leading his brother and business partner to commit suicide.