Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis Jr., founder of the popular multi-million dollar MMA clothing line and television show TapouT, was killed on the morning of March 11, 2009, when his Ferrari collided with a Porsche driven by Jeffrey David Kirby of Costa Mesa.
Now, nearly two years after his passing, the case has finally come to a close.
Superior Court Judge Richard F. Toohey sentenced Kirby to nine years in prison after a brief gathering today (Feb. 4) at the Superior Court in Santa Ana, California.
From Kirby (via The Orange County Register):
"I never hurt anyone intentionally or accidentally in my life. I wish I could right the wrong I have caused. I wish I could reverse the miseries I have caused. I never should have driven that night after drinking alcohol. I will never recover from this tragedy ... I am very sorry."
Kirby, who had previous drunken driving convictions (1985, 2002) prior to March 11, tested at a .13 blood-alcohol level a few hours after the fatal crash.
Toxicology tests performed by the Orange County Coroner following the tragedy came back negative for Lewis, reaffirming the testimony from friends and family that Mask did not drink or take drugs.
TapouT was launched in 1997, with nothing more than a vision and a handful of merchandise — and enough gas in their van to follow fighters across the state of California to promote and sell TapouT clothing.
Now his empire, along with Dan "Punkass" Caldwell and Timothy "Skyskrape" Katz, includes a reality TV show, a line of bottled water, an impressive stable of mixed-martial-arts fighters and of course its massive clothing line, which went from a few thousand dollars in sales back in the late 90’s to over $100 million in 2008.
The TapouT line was acquired by Authentic Brands Group (ABG) back in September 2010.