Mike Ashley, a former Pro Modified and NHRA U.S. Nationals Funny Car champion, was sentenced last week to three years in federal prison for his role in the 2009 collapse of a $1 billion-a-year mortgage lender.
The Long Island, New York native, 53, who served as an executive at Lend America — at one time the official mortgage source of the NHRA — pled guilty in 2011 to bank fraud. The collapse left $49 million in loans unfunded. Ashley’s case was kept under seal until 2014 and was then postponed 14 times — 12 of those made at the request of prosecutors while Ashley cooperated with authorities in providing assistance against others accused of federal crimes.
Federal law permits sentences of up to 30 years for bank fraud, however, prosecutors supported a reduced sentence as a result of the “substantial assistance” provided to them.
In addition to the three-year prison sentence, Ashley was ordered by Judge Joseph Bianco to pay $49 million in restitution and forfeit $800,000. Bianco noted in the sentencing: “I don’t have any concern that you’re not truly remorseful. I know you’re a changed man.”
According to a report from Newsday, the losses caused by Lend America’s collapse were a result of the company’s “staggering” expenses. Ashley’s attorney, Michael Keating responded, noting, “If Michael was lining his pockets, it’s a different story. He wasn’t.”
Ashley won the 2007 edition of the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis driving his self-owned Gotham City Racing Team Dodge Charger. He was also the series’ Pro Modified champion in 2004. Ashley earned his most recent professional victory as a team owner in 2008, when Melanie Troxel earned the Funny Car crown at Bristol. A month later, he sold the racing operation to Roger Burgess.
Ashley resurfaced two seasons ago with his son, Justin, competing in Top Alcohol Dragster. Justin, who serves as the President of Ashley Developers, a real estate investment firm, announced in March his intentions to debut in Top Fuel on a limited schedule in 2020.