Wichita Federal prosecutors on Wednesday sued the highest-ranking official caught in a ticket scalping scandal at the University of Kansas and his ex-wife, alleging the property settlement in their divorce defrauded the United States.
The lawsuit filed by the U.S. attorney’s office against Ben Kirtland, the former associate athletic director in charge of development, and his ex-wife, Mary Jean Kirtland, is the latest legal maneuver as the government pursues assets from the conspirators who stole more than $2 million in athletics tickets.
The lawsuit alleges Ben Kirtland transferred a house in Lenexa and other property to Mary Jean Kirtland during their divorce, intending to defraud the United States. The lawsuit seeks to void those transfers, which it contends are valued at more than $400,000.
Prosecutors argued in their lawsuit against the Kirtlands that the property settlement agreement in their divorce case was filed in Johnson County District Court only 10 days before Ben Kirtland executed a sentencing agreement in his criminal case.
Mary Jean Kirtland, who now lives in Cary, N.C., did not immediately return a call for comment over the civil case filed against her.
But in a motion also filed Wednesday in the separate criminal case against her ex-husband, her attorney contended Mary Jean Kirtland did not engage in a “fraudulent transfer of property.”
Mary Jean Kirtland wrote in an affidavit filed last month that she was “devastated” when she learned in April 2010 that her husband was resigning from the university and was implicated in a conspiracy. She contended she had no prior knowledge of any wrongdoing by her husband and is “a totally innocent party” in the proceedings.
That affidavit was filed in support of her request in her husband’s separate criminal case to get the judge to lift a restraining order prohibiting her from selling or transferring any of the disputed real estate property. That request is pending.
In all, seven people were 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.
Ben Kirtland and four others were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States through wire fraud, tax obstruction and interstate transportation of stolen property. Two officials who cooperated early with investigators were charged only with not reporting the crime in separate cases.
Ben Kirtland was sentenced in May to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1.29 million, including $1.19 million to Kansas Athletics Inc and $85,090 to the Internal Revenue Service. He also was ordered to forfeit $2 million to the government.
Most of that money is due jointly and individually by the five former Kansas athletics officials convicted of conspiracy.
The civil filing noted that the U.S. attorney’s office has collected so far $81,025 from the other four defendants in the conspiracy case that has been credited to the restitution judgment, leaving a balance due of $1.21 million.
Prosecutors argued Kirtland has not paid any of the court-ordered restitution in his criminal case, notwithstanding that Kirtland paid $63,000 to the university in a separate civil agreement before the government charged him with conspiracy.