Le Mans driver Scott Tucker gets $1.27 billion vindication from US Supreme Court but remains in jail

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They’ve been telling us for years that sport unites people. But who knew that a race car driver on duty for 16 2/3 years at Leavenworth could inspire a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of the United States? Le Mans Series champion Scott Tucker managed to do just that.

In the process, Tucker got a temporary reprieve by paying back $1.27 billion the government says it stole from payday loan customers.

What is Scott Tucker’s connection to motorsport?

Scott Tucker was sentenced to Leavenworth before and after he started racing at the age of 44 and achieved resounding success in the Le Mans series. | Brian Cleary/Getty Images

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A 2010 profile by the the wall street journal said Scott Tucker didn’t start racing cars until he was 44. Just four years later, he was part of a team competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s most prestigious endurance race, in a car that had won the competition. thrice.

It was an incredible change of pace for a man who had built a financial empire, but Tucker was captivated by the sport after seeing a Ferrari Challenge competition in Florida. He started his own racing team, Level 5 Motorsports, and started getting into the NASCAR Rolex Grand-Am sports car series in 2007.

Tucker competed in 20 Grand-Am events over five seasons, earning just two podium finishes. But the experience has acclimated him to championship-level competition. Starting in 2010, Tucker moved on to the American Le Mans Series, where he absolutely dominated.

Competing in 33 races over four years, Tucker scored 24 wins and seven more podium finishes. In January 2010, Tucker’s team placed third overall in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

His team won its class in 2014 at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

The start of a payday loan empire

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Scott Tucker has always been a controversial figure in racing circles, but not because of his driving. A joint investigation by iWatch News and CBS News in 2011 reported that Tucker was sentenced to a year in Leavenworth in 1991 for a scheme that stole more than $100,000 from companies thinking they were receiving business loans.

In 1997, Tucker met Philadelphia businessman Charles Hallinan, who specialized in payday loans. He helped set up Tucker at a sister company operating out of Kansas. Hallinan presented $500,000 to Tucker, who then erased his debts via a Chapter 7 filing.

Over the next decade, Tucker expanded the reach of his business across the country, often opening under new names in conjunction with Native American tribes. By law, tribes were not subject to the rules on interest rates applied to loans.

As attorneys general in several states began filing lawsuits against businesses Tucker operated through the tribes, their tactics became more aggressive. In 2008, Colorado authorities issued a contempt warrant and then missed their chance to arrest him when he entered the state for a race at La Junta Raceway, where he set a record track.

In 2008, Tucker claimed to have merged his Colorado business with a new tribal-owned company to form AMG Services.

The government is catching up with Scott Tucker

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Scott Tucker and Philadelphia businessman Charles Hallinan have stayed in regular contact over the years to update their joint venture. Suspicious as Tucker’s updates became more sporadic, according to the iWatch News and CBS News report, Hallinan determined that his partner had transferred most of his assets to AMG Services.

In April 2012, the Federal Trade Commission filed a civil suit against Tucker and AMG Services, alleging illegal business tactics. After years of wrangling, a federal district judge in 2016 ordered Tucker and other defendants to pay $1.27 billion for deceiving customers and charging inflated interest rates. Separately, authorities indicted Tucker on racketeering charges often used against organized crime. He was convicted of 14 counts in October 2017 and sentenced to 16 2/3 years in Leavenworth.

That was the end of the matter until April 22, 2021, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Federal Trade Commission had no authority to seize the money it recovered.

“The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of crooks and dishonest companies, leaving average Americans to pay for illegal behavior,” Acting FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said in a statement. KansasCity.com reported.

With the FTC having already distributed the $505 million, it’s unclear whether Tucker could be reimbursed. According to reports, however, the FTC has other mechanisms to recover money in cases of fraud. They are more complicated and take more time than the method invalidated by the court.

Tucker has so far failed to appeal the criminal conviction. A separate criminal tax evasion case against him – he is said to have amassed a personal fortune of $380 million – remains unresolved.

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