Leawood businessman Scott Tucker was sentenced in New York today to more than 16 years in prison for running an illegal internet payday lending empire.
Tucker, who’s also a race car driver, and Timothy Muir, an Overland Park lawyer who worked for him, were convicted in New York in October of all 14 counts against them. Muir was sentenced to 7 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors said Tucker’s businesses charged payday loan customers illegally high interest rates, as much as 700 percent. They said Tucker, 55, and Muir, 46, tried to thwart state usury laws by falsely claiming the businesses were owned by Native American tribes and were protected by sovereign immunity.
Tucker’s lawyer has said he intends to appeal his conviction.
In pronouncing sentence, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel described Tucker's and Muir's crimes as "a scheme to extract money from people in desperate circumstances" that "created heartbreak and sorrow ... not just financial loss," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
The Federal Trade Commission also sued Tucker for deceptive and unfair debt collection practices. In October 2016, a judge socked him with a $1.3 billion judgment. The FTC said it was the largest award it had ever obtained in a litigated case.
Tucker, who competes on the U.S. and European racing car circuits, was sentenced to a year in prison in 1991 for making a false statement to a bank.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.