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NASCAR team owner heads to the slammer
As he was about to be sentenced Monday for federal income tax fraud, those in the courtroom stood up for Larry McClure [owner of the #4 Chevy in Sprint Cup Series, three Daytona 500 wins]. Supporters of the motorsports icon filled the courtroom, which was too small to hold them. Family members, friends, giants of the stock car racing world - around 50 people - spilled into the hallway, stood on benches and stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with McClure and his family. Junior Johnson, the fabled moonshiner-turned-dirt track racer and NASCAR team owner, turned out. Joy Stata, a Florida native, was there to support the man who put her hometown of Bartow on the racing map. Jeff Byrd, president of Bristol Motor Speedway, stood outside, having arrived too late to get a seat.

Inside the courtroom of Judge James P. Jones, McClure made his last public mea culpa. “I’d like to apologize to you, the court,” he told Jones, chief judge for the Western District of Virginia. “To the opposing counsel, to my family, my God. His will be done, whatever you decide.” Jones’ decision ushered in a stunned silence, punctuated by sniffles: McClure will serve 18 months in prison, the low end of the sentencing range. For McClure’s supporters, it was a crushing end to a three-year criminal investigation that has taken a toll on him personally and financially. McClure pleaded guilty in January to five counts of filing a false income tax return, obstructing the federal investigation and lying to Internal Revenue Service investigators.

In addition to the prison time, McClure was fined $40,000, ordered to reimburse the IRS $25,000 for its investigation, and to pay nearly $60,000 in restitution to Eastman-Kodak for filing a false invoice. He was also ordered to refile his personal income tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2004. During those years, McClure admitted to accepting $269,000 in cash payments from a friend in exchange for services provided by Morgan-McClure Motorsports, of which McClure is a part owner. He did not report the income to the corporation or on his personal tax returns, and owes the government just over $100,000. Bristol Herald Courier

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