Archive for Thursday, April 14, 2011

Former KU athletics ticket official Charlette Blubaugh sentenced to 57 months for her role in cash-for-tickets scheme

Former University of Kansas athletic department consultant, Thomas Ray Blubaugh, and his wife Charlette Blubaugh, left and center, leave the U.S. Federal Courthouse, in Wichita, Kan., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, after being arraigned on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say the couple, along with others, are charged with stealing athletic tickets and scalping them for cash to ticket brokers and third parties outside the university totally $5 million.

Former University of Kansas athletic department consultant, Thomas Ray Blubaugh, and his wife Charlette Blubaugh, left and center, leave the U.S. Federal Courthouse, in Wichita, Kan., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, after being arraigned on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say the couple, along with others, are charged with stealing athletic tickets and scalping them for cash to ticket brokers and third parties outside the university totally $5 million.

April 14, 2011, 10:43 a.m. Updated April 14, 2011, 1:07 p.m.

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— Charlette Blubaugh, a former associate athletics director at Kansas Athletics Inc., was sentenced Thursday to 57 months in prison for her role in a ticket-theft scheme and conspiracy that prosecutors say cost the department at least $2 million.

Blubaugh, who had pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, also must spend three years on supervised release once she’s released from custody, plus be responsible for paying a total of $2.56 million in restitution to the department and the IRS.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown also denied Blubaugh’s request to delay her prison term, quashing her hopes that she would care for her two young children — ages 5 and 6 — while husband Thomas Blubaugh serves a 46-month prison term for his role in the tickets scam.

“I am truly sorry for the pain that I have caused, and the disappointment I have caused my family,” Charlette Blubaugh said.

Brown imposed the sentence as federal agents and others looked on in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

“We’re all sorry this occurred,” Brown said. “But this did occur.”

Charlette Blubaugh, the former associate athletics director for ticket operations at Kansas Athletics, was a central figure in a scam that involved more than 17,000 basketball tickets and more than 2,000 football tickets from 2005 to 2010.

She, her husband and others took tickets and then sold them through brokers and others for their own personal gain.

“She was the gatekeeper for all stolen tickets,” prosecutors said, in their sentencing memo.

She also was in charge of the computer system that was supposed to track tickets and presumably prevent thefts. Prosecutors noted that in December 2009, Lew Perkins, then athletics director, had been meeting with federal investigators regarding nearly 100 ticket stubs — all but one with consecutive numbers — that had been pulled out of a trash can in the Kansas City area as part of their ticket investigation.

When Perkins called Blubaugh into the interview, prosecutors said, she lied to investigators by advising them that it would be impossible for anyone to have more than 40 tickets to any KU basketball game. She also told the agents that the computer program tracked destinations of tickets to prevent such problems.

“She provided this information full well knowing that she had manipulated the system to allow for the large scale illegal issuance of tickets so that the issuance would appear to be in the regular course of business,” prosecutors said, in their sentencing memo.

Blubaugh left the department in February 2010, citing family reasons. But because of her experience with the computer software, she stayed with the department in a consulting capacity to help handle “the requests of federal authorities” regarding tickets, according to KU’s investigation. She even worked on spreadsheets provided by the IRS.

Soon, the scam would be exposed. KU released its investigation in May, and Charlette Blubaugh quickly resigned from her job working for the athletics director at the University of Central Oklahoma.

KU’s investigation concluded that she had been “directly responsible for creating the climate of an ice cream store where the employees feel free to sample the wares without paying for them.” She and others were indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2010.

On Thursday, Judge Brown concluded that Charlette Blubaugh’s involvement had been key, even as she had argued that thefts had been ongoing upon her arrival at KU in 2004 and that auditors had failed to raise concerns, leading her to start stealing tickets herself in 2006.

“Regardless of whose idea it was or how it started … her conduct was essential for the conduct to continue for many years,” Brown said.

In fact, prosecutors said, Blubaugh and her husband already had earned $35,440 from illegal ticket sales in 2005 — the beginning of an overall take of $841,111 over five years, all from running tickets through a single broker in Oklahoma.

Earlier this week, prosecutors noted that investigators recently discovered 14 boxes of tickets and parking passes — including 3,000 tickets for the 2008 Orange Bowl — in a storage unit in Lenexa, likely pushing KU’s financial losses beyond what had previously been calculated.

“Defendant and her husband enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, including an expensive home in Cedar Creek with pool and customized patio,” prosecutors said in their memo. “They purchased vacations, vacation timeshares and a motor home. And they have not provided the government with a reasonable explanation of all that happened to the money.”

On Thursday, Brown ordered Charlette Blubaugh to be responsible for $2.56 million in restitution. Of that total, nearly $2.3 million must go to Kansas Athletics — of which nearly $1.2 million she shares responsibility for paying along with four other former Kansas Athletics employees convicted of conspiracy:

The total for Kansas Athletics also includes more than $100,000 in restitution that she shares responsibility for paying along with Brandon Simmons, a former employee who previously admitted taking and selling tickets but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, failing to notify authorities about the scam; and $56,000 that she shares responsibility for paying along with Jason Jeffries, another former coworker who had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.

Both Jeffries and Simmons are on probation.

Charlette Blubaugh’s attorneys initially had sought probation for their client, arguing that she had lacked a previous criminal record, had cooperated with authorities and still had parental duties.

“She has a good moral compass that simply failed her in a big way,” her attorneys said, in their sentencing memo.

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Comments

princess81 4 years, 4 months ago

Good! She and her husband deserved no mercy in the sentencing phase. Perhaps they should have been thinking about their children when they were in the middle of this! Those children will pay, so sad for them.
Glad the judge didn't sway for either of them in regards to their children.

Steve Bunch 4 years, 4 months ago

I like the way it has become the compass's fault. Damned moral compass! Just a technical glitch.

MattressMan 4 years, 4 months ago

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haggisgirl 4 years, 4 months ago

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Victoria 4 years, 4 months ago

Now maybe The Big Tuna can breathe a sigh of relief...managed to avoid getting snagged in the net and the investigation/convictions/sentendings are over.

On another note...how can those attornies even keep a straight face as they requst leniency, moral compasses, etc. Once any of their demeanor's cracked it that whole speech, the whole courtroom would burst out laughing...probably including the judge!

jesse499 4 years, 4 months ago

Maybe Perkins will come out of retirement for this!

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 4 months ago

It wasn't a one-time "moral compass" problem. She systematically worked her way into a position in which she could more easily work this scam. She started as a simple ticket manager, but campaigned for and was promoted to additional responsibilities (like IT) for which she had no experience. She drove honest people out of the department in the process. Ultimately it is Lew's fault for allowing this to happen because he allowed a lack of institutional control to fester.

thesloss 4 years, 4 months ago

Blubaugh and others who were direct reports of Lew Perkins stole more than tickets and money from KUA ... they stole intangibles ... Jayhawk Pride, long standing tradition of excellence & integrity ... the sense of a fair exchange between monies donated to the university (points system) and a fair seat selection in return. What has been eroded here is the confidence we used to have in the University. Now, even the chancellor, the internal review committee, and other's handling of Lew Perkins and his direct reports's ticket scandal leaves us feeling little to no confidence in them and the processes in place.

thesloss 4 years, 4 months ago

The caption under photo indicates it is from 8 Dec 2010

troll 4 years, 4 months ago

I feel very sad for the children, 5 and 6 are so young. Hopefully they will have loving family members who will care for them.

John Hamm 4 years, 4 months ago

Sometimes, in this case anyway, the court makes the correct decision.

Stan Unruh 4 years, 4 months ago

I hope LJWorld will interview some of these ticket jail birds in the coming months. I'd like to hear what they have to say about their life behind bars and their thoughts about Lew.

bad_dog 4 years, 4 months ago

Well bud, I'm probably wasting my time, but...

Lawyers have an ethical obligation-repeat obligation, to advocate for the interests of their clients. That obligation attaches at the beginning of the representation and continues for the duration, through sentencing and any appeals. Any lawyer that doesn't fulfill that obligation is subject to sanctions, up to and including suspension/loss of their professional license.

I chose not to practice criminal or family law because I didn't want to associate with persons accused of heinous crimes or argue about who gets the tea towels, custody issues, etc.. Nevertheless, some attorneys choose to represent these clients and they are entitled to the best representation that attorney can provide under the law-as distasteful as that may sometimes be to you, me and the public. That obligation includes looking for "loopholes" in the law and using words to formulate arguments that may hopefully persuade a jury or Court to interpet the situation as favorably as possible for their client.

Perhaps you would like it better if an attorney just threw up his/her hands and said "Your Honor, Mr./Mrs. Prosecutor, members of the jury, you're right. He/she is a real POS with no remorse, redeeming characteristics or mitigating circumstances. He/she is so obviously guilty I don't even know why there was a presumption of innocence. Heck, why did we even have a trial? Just stop wasting everyone's time and impose the maximum sentence so I can get out of here and move on to my next despicable, obviously guilty client."

For all those who believe lawyers are inherently horrible people, I truly hope neither you ar anyone you love ever really needs one. We can just agree that you/they are guilty of the crime or your actions were grossly negligent, you aren't entitled to a share of your parent's estate, don't deserve custody rights and should pay everything you have in spousal support and weren't really injured; whether on the job, by that drunk driver, or that poorly designed/manufactured product.

Good luck and God speed.

Bob Forer 4 years, 4 months ago

“She had argued that thefts had been ongoing upon her arrival at KU in 2004 and that auditors had failed to raise concerns, leading her to start stealing tickets herself in 2006"

What nonsense!! As a new employee with no experience she discovered theft that auditor had failed to uncover, so she figured, what the heck. Might as well take my share.

What a load of garage. She insults our intelligence if she expects us to believe that.

This was purely about unadulterated, unmitigated, and unreconstituted GREED.

The Blubaughs had great jobs and were paid handsomely. It wasn't enough. They wanted more.

Pigs, the both of them! Greedy pigs!.

Bob Forer 4 years, 4 months ago

“She had argued that thefts had been ongoing upon her arrival at KU in 2004 and that auditors had failed to raise concerns, leading her to start stealing tickets herself in 2006"

What nonsense!! As a new employee with no experience she discovered theft that auditor had failed to uncover, so she figured, what the heck. Might as well take my share.

What a load of garage. She insults our intelligence if she expects us to believe that.

This was purely about unadulterated, unmitigated, and unreconstituted GREED.

The Blubaughs had great jobs and were paid handsomely. It wasn't enough. They wanted more.

Pigs, the both of them! Greedy pigs!.

SELF_RESPECT 4 years, 4 months ago

I wanted to be present today in the court room but it just wasn't worth the price of gas to get there. I was disappointed we didn't learn just exactly who it was that she raised concerns about that ticket theft had been going on before her arrival. It could have just been a ploy early on to show she was trustworthy and had a great moral compass! Vomit.....Or is that individual still in the "house"??? (SL) ?? Any thoughts out there?

Richard Payton 4 years, 4 months ago

Do the children become wards of the State?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

"Now maybe The Big Tuna can breathe a sigh of relief...managed to avoid getting snagged in the net and the investigation/convictions/sentendings are over."

Maybe and maybe not. The feds are smart folks.

Is the big tuna paying salaries to the prisoners as they sit in jail? Is there a big tuna or more than one?

How do the "brokers" get off the hook?

Perhaps the children will be allowed to go with grandparents or Blubaugh siblings? Such a tough experience at these critical ages.

BruceWayne 4 years, 4 months ago

seems to me they all caved pretty easy. I think that this was the tip of the iceberg, and rushed guilty pleas prevented "the rest of the story" from coming out. As I have stated before, there will be no charges against Lew.

opobserver 4 years, 4 months ago

Yeah. I took a look at the classified ad for the new Williams Fund Administrator. I personally know RJ, and know that he did not meet those qualifications when he was promoted. Oh yeah, and in addition to their already inflated salaries, no one ever mentions that all these folks, at least I know RJ, drove cars belonging to the university, This ole hick from Misoura (RJ) had a good thing going, but it wasn't enough. I would guess the same is true for Charlotte and her hubby. When are we going to hear who was renting the storage unit in Lenexa. I also heard that one of these folks spent several months stashing cash in faraway places. Wanna guess who I am talking about? Don't worry, RJ is going to make sure he is well taken care of when he leaves prison.

somedude20 4 years, 4 months ago

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Irenaku 4 years, 4 months ago

That lady has some serious "angry eyebrows"

somedude20 4 years, 4 months ago

LJWorld, this song is for you for taking away my post: Un-break my heart Say you'll love me again Undo this hurt you caused When you walked out the door And walked out of my life Un-cry these tears I cried so many nights Un-break my heart My heart

somedude20 4 years, 4 months ago

Funny, last night on TV, I watched an interview with Chaz Bono, boy what happened to her/him? Then, after the Chaz Bono interview, I watched and old episode of SNL from the 90's and they had the "It's Pat" sketch, funny, is it a man or a woman? I have no clue why I am posting this on the KU ticket scandal blog but here it is. I love cute little puppies!!!!

brandx 4 years, 4 months ago

What's the real cause of obesity? Here it is: greed and over-consumption. Just look at these two.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

I'd be angry as well if someone set me up .....

BruceWayne 4 years, 4 months ago

okay I'll bite...who on earth do you think set her up?

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