Kurt Busch's ex-girlfriend guilty of fraud, tax evasion

Patricia Driscoll, Kurt Busch's former girlfriend and Armed Forces Foundation executive director, was found guilty of fraud and tax evasion Thursday by a federal jury, according to a Department of Justice spokesman.

After four days of jury deliberation that followed five weeks of testimony in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Driscoll was found guilty on two counts of wire fraud, one count of first-degree fraud and two counts of tax evasion.

Federal prosecutors, according to the indictment, alleged Driscoll lied to donors by stating that 94 to 96 percent of all donations went to military members and their families; that she falsely directed the foundation's books to characterize that that money went to veterans and their families when it went to her; and that she filed false tax returns that did not include commissions from fundraising and other benefits she received in addition to her salary.

Sentencing is scheduled for mid-March, and Driscoll will remain free on a personal recognizance until sentencing. The statutory maximum sentence for the crimes is 35 years in prison, but sentences rarely come close to the statutory maximums.

Driscoll attorney Brian Stolarz said Driscoll plans to appeal the verdict. During the trial, Stolarz made a motion for a mistrial in which he referenced Driscoll's earlier dealings with the government; that motion was denied. According to court documents, Stolarz argued that an IRS agent had an obligation, when asked if he worked for the government during a break in a 2015 Driscoll child custody hearing, to disclose he worked for the IRS. He also argued that the IRS agent never documented a meeting with Driscoll's ex-husband.

"The jury did not get it right -- Patricia Driscoll is innocent," Stolarz said in a statement. "We are very disappointed by the verdict and the government's misconduct in this case. We will appeal. This is not the final chapter to this story."

The joint FBI-IRS investigation began in 2015 after ESPN's Outside the Lines reported on questionable practices by Driscoll during her 12-year run as executive director of the foundation, which had ties to sports-related entities, including NASCAR and Busch. The foundation has since shut down.

In the days following their 2014 breakup, Driscoll accused Busch of physically assaulting her. Driscoll testified in court that Busch smashed her head into a bedroom wall and choked her in his motor home at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway. Busch claimed Driscoll entered his motor home uninvited -- they had broken up a week earlier -- and he cupped her face with his hands while repeatedly asking her to leave.

Law enforcement officials determined there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Busch.

A family court commissioner granted Driscoll's request for a protective order, which resulted in NASCAR suspending Busch two days before the 2015 Daytona 500. He sat out the first three races of the 2015 season before being reinstated.