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John Paul, Sr. (racing driver)

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John Paul, Sr. (racing driver)

John Lee Paul (born Hans-Johan Paul, December 3, 1939 in the Netherlands) was an American racecar driver. After his racing career he served a 15-year prison sentence for a variety of crimes including drug trafficking and shooting a Federal witness. In 2001 he disappeared on his boat while being sought for questioning by officials regarding the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. He is sometimes known in the motorsport scene as John Paul, Sr. or John Paul.

Before racing

Paul emigrated to the United States from The Netherlands in 1956 with his family, settling in Muncie, Indiana and legally changing his name to John Lee Paul.[1] He attended Ball State University and then received a scholarship to Harvard University, where he received a master's degree in business.[2] He became a successful mutual fund manager, and a millionaire.[1] In 1960, his wife Joyce gave birth to a son, John Jr., who went on to drive in the Indy 500.[3]

Racing career

Paul started club-level sportscar road racing in the late 1960s, winning the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Northeast Regional Championship in 1968.[1] When his wife and son left him in 1972, Paul left racing for a while, living on a sailboat he had purchased. He resumed racing in 1975 – now with his son, who had chosen to return to him, as a part-time member of his crew. In 1979, Paul won the Trans-Am Series race at Mosport by a margin of 33 seconds.[4] In 1980, Paul began teaming with his son, and on May 26 Paul remarried, holding the ceremony on the infield at Lime Rock Park.[5] Later in the day he teamed with his son to win the day's race, making them the first father-son duo to win an IMSA Camel GT race.[5] In 1982 the two teamed up to win the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. 1982 would be Paul Sr.'s last year as a driver, however. The lack of a major sponsor meant that, even with the team's success, his expenses overcame his earnings.[2]

Legal trouble

The Pauls had their first legal troubles when on January 10, 1979, Paul Jr. and Christopher Schill were caught by customs agents loading equipment onto a pickup truck on the bank of a canal in the Louisiana bayous after dark. Following questioning, when one of them smelled marijuana on their clothing, Paul Sr. was apprehended on his 42-foot boat named Lady Royale, where customs discovered marijuana residue and $10,000 on board. A rented truck was discovered nearby, which contained 1,565 pounds (710 kg) of marijuana. In court, all three pleaded guilty to marijuana possession charges, where each was placed on three years' probation and fined $32,500.[6]

On April 19, 1983, an individual named Steven Carson was shot in the chest, abdomen and leg in Crescent Beach, Florida. Carson had been given immunity in a drug trafficking case. He testified that John Paul, Sr. had approached him, ordered him into the trunk of his car, and shot at him five times when he fled rather than comply. Paul then fled when a companion of Carson's began shouting.[2] Paul was arrested, but while out on bail fled before his trial.[2][7] Paul was apprehended by Swiss authorities in January 1985, served a six-month sentence in Switzerland for using a false passport, and was extradited back to the United States in March 1986[8] At the same time, Paul's son John Jr. pleaded guilty to racketeering and received a five-year sentence, but refused to testify against his father,[9] who had been indicted as the ringleader of a drug trafficking ring that included, among others, both Johns, and John Sr.'s father, Lee. On June 4, 1986, Paul Sr. pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and received a sentence of twenty years, later expanded to twenty-five years after additional sentences were added. Paul served his sentence in USP Leavenworth.[10][11][12] Paul was paroled on July 2, 1999,[13] but soon ran into more problems. In 2000, Paul met a woman named Colleen Wood, who would end up moving in with Paul on his 55-foot schooner. In December of that year, Wood disappeared, never to be heard from again.[14] Police questioned Paul in connection with the disappearance, but no charges were filed. Paul shortly after disappeared himself, likely in violation of his parole. As of 2013 the case remains unsolved.

References

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