Wichita A former consultant for the University of Kansas asked a federal judge on Wednesday to sentence him to no more than 21 months in prison for his part in a $2 million ticket scalping scandal that has already sent two other conspirators to prison for longer terms.
Thomas Blubaugh of Medford, Okla., pleaded in a court filing for leniency when he is sentenced Monday, citing his poor health, his young children and his cooperation with authorities. He is seeking a sentence below the advisory guideline range of 33 months to 41 months.
In his filing, Blubaugh said he does not dispute a recommendation in the pre-sentence investigation report that he make restitution of $841,111, the losses he argued are attributable to him and his wife. But he does not want to be held responsible for the thefts and sales of tickets by other conspirators.
Seven people, including Blubaugh's wife Charlette Blubaugh, have been snared in the investigation into the unlawful sale of football and basketball season tickets by key athletics department officials to ticket brokers and others in which the employees pocketed the money. All pleaded guilty.
Thomas Blubaugh, 46, pleaded guilty in January to a single count of conspiracy to defraud the United States through wire fraud, tax obstruction and interstate transportation of stolen property.
As a consultant to the ticket office, Thomas Blubaugh was on the payroll from August 2007 until January 2010 at a cost of $115,000 to Kansas Athletics Inc., a nonprofit that promotes Kansas athletics. He was previously the director of athletic ticket operations at the University of Oklahoma.
In his plea agreement, Thomas Blubaugh admitted he paid travel expenses for an intermediary who marketed the stolen tickets through brokers in Oklahoma. He also acknowledged he used deception to keep others from tracing the tickets back to him by using third parties not connected to the ticket office to sell them to individuals and brokers. He also admitted concealing the proceeds on tax returns.
Charlette Blubaugh, then the associate athletic director at the University of Kansas, was in charge of the ticket office. She has admitted that she began stealing tickets in 2005, giving them to other employees to sell to third parties in violation of university policy. She will be sentenced on April 14.
In seeking a more lenient sentence, Thomas Blubaugh argued in his latest filing that the court should consider that the couple has two children together, ages 6 and 5. Charlette Blubaugh also has two children from a previous marriage who live with their father and visit the Blubaughs every other weekend.
He asked the court to take into account his family situation and either give him a lesser sentence than was recommended or allow his wife to stay out of prison until he has completed his sentence so that one parent can care for their children. He told the court that he and his wife have agreed that, if the court allows it, he should serve his sentence first.
The former consultant also asked the court to consider his cooperation with authorities, noting that as recently as two weeks ago he assisted Internal Revenue Service agents in retrieving tickets for sporting events that had passed, so-called deadwood files, which were in his storage unit in Lenexa.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown gave probation to two university officials who cooperated early with an internal investigation and with federal prosecutors. Brandon Simmons, the school's former athletic director of sales and marketing, and Jason Jeffries, the former assistant director of ticket operations, had been charged with failing to tell authorities about the scheme.
The Blubaughs and three others were charged with conspiracy, a more serious crime carrying stiffer potential sentences.
Kassie Liebsch, the former systems analyst at the ticket office, was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Former assistant athletics director Rodney Jones received a 46-month prison sentence. In handing down those prison sentences, Brown cited the length of the conspiracy and the harm it caused to the university.
Former associate athletic director of development Ben Kirtland is set for sentencing in May.