Federal prosecutors want Prairie Village scammer Joel Tucker to be in prison for more than 11 years for selling fake consumer information to debt collectors and failing to pay millions in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.
Tucker, the brother of former professional racing driver and convicted payday loan criminal Scott Tucker, is due to be convicted on June 17 after pleading guilty to multiple interstate transportation of stolen money, bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion.
Prosecutors are urging a federal judge to sentence Tucker to 135 months in prison and force him to pay more than $ 8 million in unpaid taxes that he owes the IRS.
“Tucker broke the law for many years and his justice is long overdue,” the government memo read. “Those who have seen him cheat and lie and not even pretend to care about his fellow Americans should see that his behavior is not rewarded with a slap.”
Tucker’s attorney argued in a lawsuit filed Monday that Tucker should face no more than nine years in prison.
A 2018 grand jury indicted Tucker after hearing evidence that he sold spreadsheets to collection agencies that allegedly contained unpaid consumer debt. However, these spreadsheets were fake; consumers did not owe the debts listed in the documents Tucker sold to collectors.
Debt collectors buy unpaid bills from companies for pennies on the dollar in the hopes that they will be better able to get consumers to pay than the companies that the debt originated from. Diligent buyers of debt require a chain of ownership and other evidence that the debt is valid before making the purchase, but many do not.
Prosecutors said Tucker’s fraudulent sales resulted in consumers receiving phone calls and mail from debt collection agencies. Some of these consumers went on and paid off the debts they really didn’t owe.
Tucker’s plan came to light in 2016 when bankruptcy judges across the country noticed thousands of consumer bankruptcy cases where collection agencies suddenly struggled to prove the validity of the debts they allegedly owed from debtors.
A judge in Texas opened an investigation that found that Tucker was the source of these suspicious allegations.
Tucker was brought to Texas to explain himself in court. Prosecutors said Tucker lied repeatedly during his testimony. The judge ordered Tucker to compile records of his debt files, but later found that Tucker did not provide any information he requested or create fictional data to be provided to the court.
The Texas judge referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Tom Kirkendall, a Houston attorney who represented one of the debtors who got stuck on one of Tucker’s forged portfolios, said Tucker’s plan was unusual.
“I’ve been practicing for over 40 years and I’ve seen a lot – I was very involved in the Enron case, so I’ve seen a lot,” Kirkendall said. “But Tucker was very bold. He was definitely on the edge of the envelope. I don’t know what drove him. “
Tucker even relied on his brother’s payday loan companies to create his fake debt portfolios. One of Scott Tucker’s brand names for payday loans was 500FastCash. The company received more than 1,000 complaints from people harassed by outside debt collection agencies demanding repayment of bills they did not owe.
In total, Joel Tucker received $ 7.3 million for his worthless paper.
Prosecutors in their conviction memo characterized Tucker as a serial liar who used his ill-gotten profits to fund a lavish lifestyle and acted as if he would never face consequences for his actions.
They pointed out that Tucker owes the IRS $ 8 million in unpaid taxes and has made little progress in paying back that bill, including not even a dollar in taxes paid on his income since 2014.
Tucker told an IRS agent he didn’t have the money to pay the government, but investigators learned he was making opulent purchases, such as leasing luxury vehicles, chartering private jets, paying six-figure credit card bills, and staying in high-end hotels expensive places like Vail, Colorado.
“The United States has been trying to collect money from Tucker for more than a decade, and Tucker has evaded payment at every turn,” the government memo read. “He has lied repeatedly, using mailbox companies and bank accounts to hide his money, used a friend to hide his money, and paid nothing while making millions through fraud.”
The Federal Trade Commission, a consumer protection agency, sued Tucker over his debt portfolio, which resulted in a $ 4 million fine on him in 2017.
Tucker recently received a $ 20,833 loan from the government’s paycheck protection program, which was created during the coronavirus pandemic last year to help companies pay rent and keep employees on their payroll during the Economy was devastated by the health emergency.
One of the questions applicants have to answer is whether or not they will be charged in applying for the loan that Tucker was when he made his application. Tucker replied that it did not and received the proceeds according to the prosecutor’s memo.
Tucker’s attorney, JR Hobbs, said in a memo that the judge should consider an 87-108 month sentence, arguing that Tucker took full responsibility for his actions. Hobbs’ memo states that Tucker takes care of his mother, who has health problems, and takes care of his two children.
“Mr. Tucker understands and regrets how his wrongdoing has affected his family, friends, and the community,” Hobbs’ memo reads, further urging Tucker to participate in a prison treatment program for inmates with a history of alcohol and drugs have consumed.
Hobbs did not respond to a request for comment on Tucker’s conviction.
In an email response to The Star, Tucker said his sentence was delayed, despite the fact that the court record on Tuesday reflected a June 17 conviction hearing that was upheld by a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney General for the western borough of Missouri.
“We’re still working on our side and still have a lot to do,” said Tucker.