Scott Tucker and lawyer plead not guilty in payday loan case

Scott Tucker
Scott Tucker

Race car driver and payday loan mogul Scott Tucker pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges stemming from a federal crackdown on lenders that prey on poor people by charging interest rates that sometimes exceed 700 percent.

Timothy Muir, a lawyer who worked for Tucker, also pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a New York federal court to charges that include collecting unlawful debts, using misleading contracts and falsely stating that the businesses were owned and operated by Native American tribes.

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Paul Shechtman, a lawyer for Tucker, and Marc Agnifilo, a lawyer for Muir, both declined to comment after the hearing.

Tucker, 53, of Leawood, helped transform payday lending from local storefront businesses that gave small-dollar, high-interest loans secured with postdated checks into operations with national reach.

He also pioneered the use of Native American sovereign tribal immunity to avoid state regulation with one of his affiliates, AMG Services Inc.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor said prosecutors expected by next week to finish the review and turnover of millions of pages of evidence collected during the investigation, including emails and banking records, to defense lawyers.

A hearing to set a trial date is scheduled for April 22.

If convicted on the most serious charges, Tucker and Muir face as long as 20 years in prison.

The U.S. also seeks to seize at least $2 billion from Tucker, including a property in Aspen, Colo., a Learjet, six Ferraris and four Porsches, saying they were bought with proceeds of crime.

Separately, Richard Moseley Sr., 68, of Kansas City, faces charges that include the collection of unlawful debts and wire fraud.

He owned a group of payday lending businesses called Hydra Lenders from about 2004 to late 2014, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office from the Southern District of New York.

Hydra Lenders generated about $161 million in revenue over an eight-year period that ended in August 2014, prosecutors said. Moseley allegedly spent millions of dollars obtained from victims on such things as vacation homes in Colorado and Mexico, luxury automobiles and country club membership dues.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

Steve Rosen: 816-234-4879