Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ex-KU athletics official Ben Kirtland plans to plead guilty to federal charges in ticket scam case

February 3, 2011


The onetime leader of fundraising for Kansas Athletics Inc. plans to plead guilty later this month in federal court for his role in a tickets scam that cost the department millions of dollars.

Ben Kirtland

Ben Kirtland

Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director for development, is scheduled to enter his guilty plea during a hearing at 10 a.m. Feb. 24 in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

Kirtland would become the seventh and final former athletics employee or consultant charged in the case to plead guilty. The case has led to changes in how tickets are distributed and preceded the accelerated retirement of Lew Perkins as athletic director.

Kirtland had been scheduled to stand trial beginning March 8 on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. But U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown has agreed to schedule a change-of-plea hearing, at Kirtland’s request.

Already having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud are:

• Charlette Blubaugh, former head of the athletics ticket office.

• Tom Blubaugh, her husband and a former consultant.

• Kassie Liebsch, a former systems analyst who had taken over for Charlette Blubaugh running the tickets office.

• Rodney Jones, former assistant athletic director in charge of Williams Fund.

Each of the co-conspirators face up to 20 years in prison, fines of up to $250,000 and are on the hook for a monetary judgment of $2 million — a total ordered to be paid by convicted co-conspirators.

Two other former co-workers — Jason Jeffries and Brandon Simmons — earlier had pleaded guilty to failing to notify authorities about the scam.

Prosecutors allege that the co-conspirators stole thousands of tickets from 2005 to 2010, then funneled those tickets through brokers and others to generate more than $2 million in illegal proceeds.


UNIKU 7 years, 3 months ago

So did they plead because they are turning state's evidence on the bigger fish invloved? Are there more indictments pending? Are they investigating other high-profile names in the Lawrence community for their involvement? How about some investigative journalism here JW?

mjioknees 7 years, 3 months ago

How about giving up hope that other 'high-profile names in the lawrence community' are involved in this....just a thought.

svenway_park 7 years, 3 months ago

So, amongst all these people, did this whole thing get started?

Ben? Charlotte?

PugnaciousJayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

With everyone pleading guilty and pledging to cooperate with authorities does anyone want to make any bets as when the next round of indictments will start coming in?

greenworld 7 years, 3 months ago

There's more people yet. Good Lord when does all this end. How many more are there?? In regards to all that have sentenced, have they not tried to figure out who was the head of all this and nail them to the ground. They should lower the sentences of all the ones if they can nail the leader of all this and give them the big sentence. Hint...hint

JoRight 7 years, 3 months ago

Yea, it's really odd to me that all these people are pleading guilty. I figured if all of them knew they were f'd for years in prison, they'd fight it. So I'm with you, some deals / other developments have come out.

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 months ago

The investigation has only addressed those employed at KUAD; when are the others outside that group going to be exposed. My guess, this will even be more embarrassing to the KU and Lawrence communities. Throughout this investigation the rumor mill as well as the LJW have mentioned names that have had some role in ticket manipulation; especially those in the Folks Road neighborhood as well the Pump Bros. in California. Any truth to all of this or "DOA".

mjioknees 7 years, 3 months ago

I think you'll be waiting around a long time for Lawrence community members names to come up....the 'folks road neighborhood as well as the Pump Bros. in Cali' had nothing to do with it. Give it up.

justforfun 7 years, 3 months ago

Well blindrabbit Bill Self must be guilty cuz he lives on Folks road in "GASP" Dave Freeman's (unfinished) old house !! Why don't you shut it untill you really know something!

Scruggsy 7 years, 3 months ago

KLWN 1320 is reporting this a.m. that he is changing his plea to not guilty on 2/24. I listened to it twice to be sure that's what they said. So somebody has their story wrong- guess we'll find out later...

Alceste 7 years, 3 months ago

Ben Kirtland is a metaphor for the enitre athletic "program" (read: MACHINE). Time to CLOSE THE DOORS to college athletics at KU as it presently is. SHUT IT DOWN. Throw the bums out. I can smell them here in San Diego. Jeez.....

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

"I can smell them here in San Diego." That stinky eh?

yankeevet 7 years, 3 months ago

Where there is smoke; there is fire..........................

pace 7 years, 3 months ago

It is amazing that Lew knew nothing, didn't have an inkling.. seems he was literally surrounded. They must have secret rooms where everyone got to go and talk about funny business. Amazing the Lew didn't know. I can barely believe it. Reading all the letters about tickets over the years i was not surprised. Lew must be a very trusting and optimistic man.

number1jayhawker 7 years, 3 months ago

Just because someone pleads guilty, doesn't mean they are ratting somebody else out. It might make their sentence a little lighter and will cost them a heck of lot less money.

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 months ago

justforfun: I did not imply Bill Self; that's your assumption. There are others in the neighborhood however, that have been frequently mentioned! You seem awfully edgy about this. As Sgt. Friday once said, "Just the Facts"

justforfun 7 years, 3 months ago

Yea the fact's say your being elusive to calling names. Say it if you think it!

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