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Former KU Athletics employee Brandon Simmons pleads guilty in ticket scandal

Brandon Simmons pleaded guilty to charges concerning his involvement in the KU ticket scandal. Simmons was accused of knowing about the scandal but not informing anyone.

July 15, 2010, 12:06 p.m. Updated July 15, 2010, 2:41 p.m.

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Brandon W. Simmons

Brandon W. Simmons

— A former assistant athletics director became the second Kansas Athletics Inc. employee to plead guilty in connection with a scandal involving more than $1 million worth of tickets the university says were stolen by insiders.

Brandon Simmons, 30, pleaded guilty to not notifying authorities of the scam in a timely manner, a felony formally known as misprision. The plea came Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Wichita, inside the same courtroom where former colleague Jason Jeffries had entered an identical plea a day earlier.

“Are you telling the court that you’re guilty?” U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown asked Simmons.

“Yes, your honor,” Simmons said.

Like Jeffries, Simmons signed a plea agreement that requires him to cooperate with prosecutors as they build a case against others said to be part of the ticket scheme.

Both had resigned from the department in April, nearly a month after KU had launched its own investigation into problems with the KU Ticket Office and the Williams Educational Fund, the department’s donor organization.

Debra Barnett, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court that criminal activity occurred from 2005 through 2010, and involved tickets that Simmons himself had received fraudulently and had delivered to a ticket broker in Oklahoma for resale to others.

Simmons, who had been the department’s assistant athletics director for sales and marketing, knew such activity was illegal, Barnett said, but had not informed authorities of the ticket scheme.

He also had not reported his or others’ receipt of the tickets nor income from their sale to the proper authorities, she said, including leaders at Kansas Athletics.

“They were receiving them ‘off the books,’ so to speak,” Barnett told Brown, describing how the schemers manipulated accounts to conceal their identities.

Mark Bennett Jr., Simmons’ attorney, said after the hearing that his client would continue to cooperate with investigators.

Simmons already has provided information to the FBI and IRS, and to an attorney who was leading the internal investigation on behalf of Kansas University, Bennett said.

KU’s investigation is complete, but the federal probe continues.

“He’s cooperated from the very get go on this thing,” Bennett said, as Simmons was being escorted down a hallway by a federal probation officer. “He’s been interviewed twice (by the attorney working for KU). He’s been interviewed by federal agents. He’s provided every piece of information he has, or has been asked about.”

KU’s report, released May 26, concluded that both Simmons and Jeffries, who had been assistant director of ticket operations, were among Kansas Athletics employees who fraudulently obtained regular-season tickets for KU football and basketball games. The report documented the theft of more than 17,000 basketball tickets and more than 2,000 football tickets from 2005 to 2010.

Also implicated in KU’s report were three other department employees: Charlette Blubaugh, former associate athletics director of ticket operations; Rodney Jones, former assistant athletics director for the Williams Fund; and Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director of development. Tom Blubaugh, a paid consultant for the department, also was cited in KU’s report.

The document concluded that both Simmons and Jeffries received tickets and even cash payments from Charlette Blubaugh, as a “thank you for a job well done,” among other things.

Bennett declined to discuss specifics of his client’s disclosures to authorities.

“You’ve read the KU report,” he said. “It’s pretty accurate.”

John Rapp, a Wichita attorney for Charlette Blubaugh, who attended Thursday’s hearing as an observer, disagrees.

“We’re still investigating,” he said, outside the fourth floor courtroom. “We believe there were some problems in the internal reports, and we look forward to clearing those up.”

Rapp left court just after Brown accepted Simmons’ guilty plea. Brown then set sentencing for 11 a.m. Sept. 29, which would be 30 minutes after a sentencing hearing for Jeffries.

Both men are free on personal recognizance bonds, which means they did not have to put up any money as they await sentencing. Each faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a year of supervised release.

Brown also reminded Simmons — as he did to Jeffries on Wednesday — that he could be ordered to pay restitution.

The KU report documented that Simmons and Jeffries had improperly sold more than $200,000 worth of tickets through brokers.

Comments

blindrabbit 4 years, 5 months ago

Two for the price of one! Maybe more to come.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Jefferies and Simmons are NOT the ring leaders so it appears.

This seemed to have been born with the help of a few local developers with special connections to corruption.

Conspiracy,perjury and grand jury indictments are tough cookies.

Wonder how many might be putting property on the market and/or filing bankruptcy?

greenworld 4 years, 5 months ago

So I havent seen Rodney Jones name surface yet? WOnder whats up with that. I thought he was one of the main players on this thing.

blindrabbit 4 years, 5 months ago

merrill: Just curious if "local developers" have any connection to the Folks Road neighborhood, Arkansas Prison residents, Junction City Military housing and the Pumps.

Clickker 4 years, 5 months ago

So basically, these guys are not really convicted of stealing anything. They are accused of not reporting crimes they may have known about. It's a stick the feds like to use typically on lower level guys, when they think your guilty of something, but dont exactly know what.

The scary thing is, you really cant defend yourself against "misprison of felony"

KEITHMILES05 4 years, 5 months ago

Oh, the Feds are gonna nail some of these traitors. They won't let this slip by and WILL make an exmaple. This is too good to let pass by and will be a loud thunder boom across the country for college athletics. Those higher and anybody else involved better be shaking in their shoes cause the FEDS are on their way!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

"merrill: Just curious if "local developers" have any connection to the Folks Road neighborhood, Arkansas Prison residents, Junction City Military housing and the Pumps. "

Who knows? Only the feds.

Didn't some person named Freeman bring this matter to the surface?

Bobo Fleming 4 years, 5 months ago

Theres is a little more to it than not reporting the crime. See the following: At common law, the misdemeanor of observing a felony and failing to prevent it, or of knowing about a felony and failing to disclose the fact of its occurrence, or concealing the felony without any previous agreement with or subsequent assistance to the felon. "Misprision of felony" should be distinguished from the crime of being an accessory before- or after-the-fact, which requires some agreement with the party committing the felony. See 217 A. 2d 432, 433. The offense of misprision of felony has not been accorded general recognition in the United States. Perkins & Boyce Criminal Law 576 (3rd ed. 1982). Today, in order to be guilty of the federal crime of "misprision of felony," in addition to knowing about a felony and failing to disclose information about it, one must take an affirmative step to conceal the felony. See 38 F. 2d 515, 517; 18 U.S.C. §4. Compare accomplice; conspiracy.

4everahawk 4 years, 5 months ago

But they WERE concealing the crime by moving the ticket availability around so it appeared that a lot of tickets were not available and then taking those tickets and selling them to a broker in Oklahoma. They both knew when Blubaugh 'gave' them 56 season tickets that it was illegal and then sold them, also illegal, and profitted to the tune of about $200 grand.

Read the exhibits that were posted from a story in May that will better explain a lot of this then you will certainly understand all the stories to come........and they WILL come.

newmedia 4 years, 5 months ago

The train has left the station.. How many more are guilty?

thesloss 4 years, 5 months ago

"falling asleep at the wheel" = "creating a culture"

camper 4 years, 5 months ago

I would truly be surprised if the mob is not involved in this.

4everahawk 4 years, 5 months ago

There was an article that estimated about $200 grand was received. I believe in 2009 the broker paid over $61,000 and the previous years may have been less, but there were also Big 12 tickets sold to them. The records went back to 2005.

oldexbeat 4 years, 5 months ago

Although crimes were committed, it would be the IRS that these two (and others) will have to deal with for all time... the taxes owed on 200,000 dollars not paid nor filed, plus the penalties and fines and interest -- and then the IRS will say -- oh, 200,000 in X years means another 200,000 the years before, etc. These fools will be broke for the rest of their lives.

opobserver 4 years, 5 months ago

Greenworld, Don't worry. Rodney will have his day in court. He was probably the ringleader, who made the most money? Notice that it says these two "could" face up to three years in prison. However, I am guessing the more they talk, the better deal they will receive. And oldexbeat, you are correct! After these six serve their time in the federal prison, they will be forever in debt to the IRS. I hope they enjoyed their money while they had it. Those days are soon to come to an end.

4everahawk 4 years, 5 months ago

I can't help but wonder why you keep saying 'get a woman director'............don't mean to sound sexist, but that would not float. There are already several woman administrators there who don't seem to be very effective, why get another? And Gray-Little????????? She has not impressed many yet. I had high hopes for her, but have come to realize that this was just a place to draw a little more money while she was drawing her 'other' money from NC. We just need to hire a loyal, honest, hard-working person who has had success as an AD previously or maybe hire John Hadl or Sayers...

blindrabbit 4 years, 5 months ago

How about Janet Murguia; she has a "history" with KU, and I'm sure Hemenway (sp. or is it Hemmingway) would give her high marks.

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