An attorney representing Leawood payday loan businessman Scott Tucker in an upcoming financial criminal trial has asked a judge for more time to prepare a legal defense for what’s expected to be a complex trial.
Lee Ginsberg, one of Tucker’s attorneys, wrote a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan, N.Y., explaining that additional charges brought against his client on Dec. 1 by federal prosecutors necessitate a later trial date than the scheduled April 17 opening of the criminal trial.
Tucker faces an array of criminal charges related to what prosecutors have described as a $2 billion payday loan enterprise that took advantage of 4.5 million consumers.
A grand jury in New York charged him and his attorney, Tim Muir, in February with crafting misleading loan terms resulting in interest rates as high as 700 percent and establishing a sham business affiliation with American Indian tribes in order to evade state regulations on interest rates.
Tucker and Muir have pleaded not guilty and deny wrongdoing.
On Dec. 1, prosecutors added wire fraud and money laundering charges.
Ginsberg said these additional charges require more work from Tucker’s legal team, including forensic accountants who have to analyze payments to Tucker from the payday loan enterprises. Evidence in the case, according to Ginsberg’s letter, involves 7.5 million pages and contents from 160 bank accounts.
“This is an enormous amount of additional work for the accountants and also for counsel to absorb and incorporate this information into the defense strategy,” Ginsberg wrote.
Tucker and Muir’s first trial date was Oct. 17, but Tucker’s original legal team withdrew from the case when an asset freeze on Tucker’s bank accounts meant he could no longer pay his private attorneys. Since then, Ginsberg and others have been appointed to defend Tucker.
Ginsberg acknowledges that the judge handling the case isn’t inclined to grant a continuance of the April 17 trial date and that the government opposes the idea.