Two former Kansas officials charged in ticket scam
July 7, 2010
WICHITA, Kan. – Two former University of Kansas athletics officials tied to a $1 million ticket scalping scandal at the school have been charged as part of a federal probe into the scheme, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.
Brandon Simmons, the university’s former assistant athletic director for sales and marketing, was charged with one count of misprision of a felony. Prosecutors allege he knew tickets were stolen from the university, concealed that fact and did not report it to authorities, according to criminal information document filed in federal court in Topeka.
The information document is typically filed with the consent of the defendant and is commonly the first step toward entering a guilty plea.
Simmons and five other university employees have been accused in connection with an alleged scheme to sell at least $1 million in basketball and football tickets to brokers. His attorney, Mark Bennett Jr., did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday. Jim Cross, the spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined comment.
Simmons, who resigned from the university in April, is the second person formally charged in the scheme. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance July 15.
Jason Jeffries, the assistant director of ticket operations, was charged last week with a criminal information alleging misprision of a felony. Jeffries is set for a hearing July 14.
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The charge is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Details of the scam surfaced in May, when school officials disclosed that a report by a Wichita law firm was sent to federal investigators already looking into allegations of wrongdoing in the athletics department and the school’s athletics fundraising arm, the Williams Educational Fund.
The law firm’s investigation found five Kansas athletics staffers and a consultant – all of them no longer employed by the school – sold or used at least 17,609 men’s basketball tickets, 2,181 football tickets and a number of parking passes and other passes for personal purposes. The report showed over $887,000 in basketball tickets and more than $122,000 worth of football tickets were involved.
Investigators were unable to determine what portion of the $1 million in tickets were sold directly to ticket brokers. Distribution of the tickets were disguised by department employees as complimentary and inventory tickets, or other categories with limited accountability.
Simmons set to appear before a magistrate judge in Wichita on July 15 for his first court appearance, a proceeding where he is only allowed to enter a not guilty plea. But that hearing is followed immediately by a change-of-plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown in Wichita.