The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columba reversed the conviction of Patricia Driscoll, ex-girlfriend of NASCAR Cup driver Kurt Busch, and called Tuesday for her to have a new trial.
The court made the decision based on instructions a District Court judge gave the jury in Driscoll’s case.
A jury found Driscoll guilty of two counts of wire fraud, two counts of tax evasion and one count of first-degree fraud on Nov. 29, 2018.
The Court of Appeals noted the instructions a judge gave the jury multiple times when informed a jury member had made up their mind and would not change it. The Court of Appeals stated that the District Court judge “increasingly strayed” from approved language for jury instructions and that “taken together, under the circumstances of this case, these instructions likely coerced a lone holdout juror to surrender his or her honestly held views in favor of a unanimous verdict.”
Driscoll’s attorney, Brian Stolarz, said in a statement: “We are very pleased with the Court’s thorough and well-reasoned opinion. Patricia Driscoll has maintained her innocence throughout this long road to justice and we will continue the fight as long as it takes.”
The case stems from when Driscoll served as the former executive director and president of the Armed Forces Foundation and developed ties with the NASCAR community. The Armed Forces Foundation shut down in 2016.
The wire fraud charges stem from a May 2015 indictment in the joint IRS-FBI investigation that she used forged documents, false accounting entries and inflated donation amounts “in order to convince donors to give money to the (Armed Forces Foundation), thereby enriching herself.”
The tax evasion counts stem from the May 2015 indictment that she diverted funds from the Armed Forces Foundation to her personal bank account, diverted funds from the AFF to her business, used AFF money to pay personal bills and bills for her business. The tax evasion charges are for tax years 2012 and 2013.
The fraud charge in the May 2015 indictment stated she purported to approve “an additional $3,000 per month payment to herself, to pay for such items as her car, gas, cell phone.”
Driscoll was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison on Sept. 13, 2019. She also was ordered to serve 36 months supervised release, a period of home confinement, 360 hours of community service and to pay $154,289 in restitution and $81,779 in a money judgment forfeiture.