Judge orders brother of Leawood payday loan mogul Scott Tucker to surrender

Joel Tucker
Joel Tucker

A federal bankruptcy judge in Texas has ordered Joel Tucker, a businessman from Kansas City, to surrender to U.S. marshals in Houston by July 29.

Marvin Isgur, a bankruptcy judge in Houston, wrote in an order that Tucker had failed to produce records of payday loan debts he allegedly sold to debt collection firms. Collectors now believe the portfolios are fraudulent.

Tucker, who has residences in Colorado and in Prairie Village, is the brother of Scott Tucker, a professional race car driver in Leawood accused by a grand jury in New York of running an illegal $2 billion payday loan business.

Joel Tucker once owned eData Solutions, a Kansas City firm that generated consumer leads and sold them to payday loan companies. He later sold eData Solutions to the Wyandotte Nation Tribe of Oklahoma for millions.

Tucker became the focus of bankruptcy proceedings in Texas earlier this year.

Judges in Houston noticed a run of consumer bankruptcy cases toward the end of 2015 where debtors challenged the validity of payday loan debts claimed by collection agencies.

Isgur demanded that three debt collection firms — Atlas Acquisitions, Porania and JH Portfolio Debt Equities — explain why their payday loan claims, often in the amount of $390, were regularly disputed in bankruptcy cases.

In court filings, Porania said last year it paid a broker $72,538 for a portfolio of 15,000 payday loan debts, each worth $390. Debt collection firms buy unpaid debts from creditors, often for pennies on the dollar, and attempt to collect on the full amount owed.

Porania’s portfolio, collectors believe, came from Joel Tucker.

Tucker has been ordered to testify in Houston and produce records to prove the origins of the payday loan debts. So far, Tucker has not produced enough evidence to satisfy the Texas judge. Isgur also has admonished Tucker for giving conflicting testimony about the provenance of his debts.

Isgur, in ordering Tucker’s surrender to law enforcement, said Tucker through court proceedings has “misdirected the court down useless paths.”

Tucker and his Houston attorney, Jim Wetwiska, were not available for comment.

The debt collection firms, now believing that the debt portfolios they purchased are fraudulent, have withdrawn more than 1,000 of their claims from bankruptcy courts around the country.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt