They have been telling us for years that sport connects people. But who knew that a racing driver serving 16 2/3 years at Leavenworth could trigger a unanimous decision by the United States Supreme Court? Le Mans Series champion Scott Tucker did just that.
In the process, Tucker received temporary redress by repaying $ 1.27 billion that the government said it had stolen from payday loan customers.
What connection does Scott Tucker have with motorsport?
Scott Tucker was sentenced to Leavenworth prison terms both before and after the start of the race at the age of 44 and achieved immense success in the Le Mans Series. | Brian Cleary / Getty Images
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A 2010 Wall Street Journal profile states that Scott Tucker didn’t start racing cars until he was 44. Just four years later, he was part of a team race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s most prestigious endurance race, in a car that had won the competition three times.
It was an incredible change for a man who had built a financial empire, but Tucker became intrigued by the sport after seeing a Ferrari Challenge competition in Florida. He put together his own racing team, Level 5 Motorsports, and started the NASCAR Rolex Grand-Am sports car series in 2007.
Tucker took part in 20 Grand-Am events in five seasons and got just two podiums. But the experience got him used to championship-level competition. From 2010 Tucker rose to the American Le Mans Series, where he absolutely dominated.
Tucker contested 33 races in four years, taking 24 wins and seven other podiums. In January 2010, Tucker’s team finished third overall at the Daytona 24 Hours.
His team won their class at the 2014 Daytona 24 Hours.
The beginning of a payday loan empire
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Scott Tucker was always a controversial figure in racing circles, but his driving was not. A joint investigation by iWatch News and CBS News in 2011 found that Tucker was sentenced to a year at Leavenworth in 1991 for paying more than $ 100,000 by companies believed to be getting business loans.
In 1997, Tucker met Philadelphia businessman Charles Hallinan, who specialized in granting payday loans. He helped Tucker start a sister company in Kansas. Hallinan provided Tucker with $ 500,000, who subsequently cleared his debt through a Chapter 7 filing.
Over the next decade, Tucker expanded its business across the country, often opening under new names in association with Native American tribes. According to the law, the tribes were not subject to any rules on the interest rates on loans.
When attorneys general from several states began filing complaints about companies operated by Tucker through the Tribes, their tactics became more aggressive. In 2008, Colorado authorities issued an arrest warrant for contempt and then missed their chance to arrest him when he entered the state for a race at La Junta Raceway, where he set a course record.
In 2008, Tucker announced that it had merged its Colorado business with a new tribal company to form AMG Services.
The government catches up with Scott Tucker
Scott Tucker and Philadelphia businessman Charles Hallinan have been in regular contact over the years to update their joint venture. Hallinan was suspicious as Tucker’s updates became more sporadic, finding, according to iWatch News and CBS News, that his partner had shifted most of his fortune to AMG Services.
In April 2012, the Federal Trade Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Tucker and AMG Services alleging illegal business practices. In 2016, after years of fighting, a federal district judge ordered Tucker and other defendants to pay $ 1.27 billion for deceiving customers and charging excessive interest. Regardless, authorities have charged Tucker with extortion, which is 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 process until April 22, 2021, when the US Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Federal Trade Commission lacked the authority to seize the money confiscated.
“The Supreme Court ruled in favor of fraudsters and dishonest businesses, and made average Americans pay for illegal behavior,” FTC incumbent chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said in a statement, KansasCity.com reported.
With the FTC already distributing the $ 505 million, it is unclear whether Tucker could be repaid. However, the FTC reportedly has other mechanisms in place to collect money in cases of fraud. They’re more complicated and time-consuming than the method the court put down.
Tucker has so far been unsuccessful in his appeal to the criminal conviction. A separate tax fraud case against him – alleged to have amassed a personal fortune of $ 380 million – is pending.
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