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Archive for Friday, January 14, 2011

Rodney Jones pleads guilty for his role in KU ticket scandal

Jones also agrees to cooperate in prosecution of others

Former University of Kansas official Rodney Jones, right, leaves the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita, Kan., on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, with his attorney, Gerald Handley, after appearing in court, accused of conspiring to steal more than $2 million in tickets to athletic events.

Former University of Kansas official Rodney Jones, right, leaves the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita, Kan., on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, with his attorney, Gerald Handley, after appearing in court, accused of conspiring to steal more than $2 million in tickets to athletic events.

January 14, 2011, 11:48 a.m. Updated January 14, 2011, 2:52 p.m.

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Rodney Jones

Rodney Jones

Former University of Kansas official Rodney Jones, right, leaves the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita, Kan., on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, with his attorney, Gerald Handley, after appearing in court, accused of conspiring to steal more than $2 million in tickets to athletic events.

Former University of Kansas official Rodney Jones, right, leaves the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita, Kan., on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, with his attorney, Gerald Handley, after appearing in court, accused of conspiring to steal more than $2 million in tickets to athletic events.

— Rodney Jones pleaded guilty Friday to his role in a five-year conspiracy to steal, distribute and pocket proceeds from the sale of Kansas University basketball and football tickets through ticket brokers.

Selling season basketball tickets through one broker alone generated proceeds of more than $975,000, the former assistant athletics director admitted in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

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

“Yes, sir,” Jones said.

Brown accepted Jones’ guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a conviction punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and responsibility for paying on a monetary judgment of up to $2 million.

“He has accepted responsibility for his role in the diversion and sale of tickets from Kansas University,” said Gerald Handley, Jones’ attorney. “He deeply regrets his involvement in this episode. He apologizes to the university for his conduct. He has agreed to and is cooperating with the authorities to resolve the issues that are referred to in the indictment.”

The plea came a day after one of Jones’ former coworkers, one-time ticket manager Kassie Liebsch, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Three others remain charged with conspiracy and await trial Feb. 15:

• Charlette Blubaugh, who preceded Liebsch as leader of the ticket office.

• Tom Blubaugh, Charlette Blubaugh’s husband and a former paid consultant to Kansas Athletics Inc.

• Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director for development.

Jones had worked as leader of the Williams Fund, whose members receive access to purchase KU tickets based on the number of points they have accumulated through monetary donations; the higher the points, the better seat selections.

In court Friday, Jones admitted receiving tickets from Kirtland, Liebsch and Charlette Blubaugh — tickets that then would be sold through brokers, with proceeds returning to Jones to be split with fellow conspirators.

One broker in the Kansas City area told authorities that he “understood that the tickets were being obtained legally,” said Richard Hathaway, assistant U.S. attorney. But that was not the case, as such tickets were taken before they could be made available to donors through normal channels.

Also part of the scheme, Hathaway said:

• The Internal Revenue Service used a variety of investigative techniques to discover that ticket brokers in the Kansas City area were receiving “an inordinate number” of KU basketball season tickets. These brokers were writing large checks to “cash” and then “a friend and associate” of Jones was taking the cash to Jones.

• The IRS sifted through the associate’s trash and found corresponding ticket stubs that all had consecutive numbers except for one. Jones was identified as having received those tickets.

• The IRS and FBI went to KU and determined Jones had not been reporting this outside income, thus violating both NCAA and university rules.

• The IRS determined Jones had converted 450 “cash hoards” into money orders from Western Union, each for $400 to $500 so he could avoid currency reporting requirements.

After Hathaway had finished, Brown asked Jones to confirm what he’d heard.

“Is that a true and accurate statement of what happened?” the judge asked.

“Yes, sir,” Jones said, using the phrase he would repeat more than 50 times during his 45-minute hearing.

As part of his plea agreement, Jones pledged to cooperate with authorities on any future investigation, hearings or trials regarding the case. He also must forfeit any assets gained as a result of the scheme.

No assets have yet been forfeited, Hathaway said.

In addition to Liebsch, two other former coworkers of Jones already have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors: Jason Jeffries and Brandon Simmons await sentencing March 7 on charges that they failed to notify authorities about the scam.

Sentencing for Liebsch is set for 10 a.m. March 30, and Jones is scheduled to be sentenced at 10:30 a.m. March 31. In exchange for their cooperation, federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend reduced sentences in relation to those outlined in federal sentencing guidelines.

Jones remains free as he awaits sentencing, and Brown reminded him that he must comply with conditions stipulated in his bond agreement.

“It says, in effect: ‘Keep your nose clean,’ ” Brown said.

Jones chuckled slightly before leaning in toward his microphone.

“Yes, sir,” he said.

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Comments

Kontum1972 3 years, 11 months ago

jones chuckled....?

so he is giving back the $975,000?....with interest..i bet there is more money out there waiting for him when he gets out

Keith 3 years, 11 months ago

Is that the same memo you're ignoring, troll.

Danielle Brunin 3 years, 11 months ago

Ken Lay faked his death so they are all enjoying it. That's always been my conspiracy theory anyways. :)

Gary Hawke 3 years, 11 months ago

This is such a kick in groin to all the "old" KU fans who were kicked out of their season ticket seats by Lew's regime...to all the faculty and alums who have to sit in the nose-bleed section of the Fieldhouse...to all the students who camp out and spend hours waiting in line for a seat. When I read this stuff, I get so angry I feel like Big Lew and his cronies (many of who are are still employed in top KU positions) need to face some kind of punishment. At best, this is criminal negligence on their part. When Lew was hired, Chancellor Heminway decided to scrap integrity for money. This is the result. The positives and negatives of any organization can be attributed, directly, to the top people in that organization. I'm a huge sports fan but I'm less in love with KU athletics after this!

number1jayhawker 3 years, 11 months ago

Don't see how this affects seating for students. It's not like they were going to be able to sit in the "season ticket holders" sections. It might help a few season ticket holders move to a little bit better location, but it won't be significant.

BTW, I have season tickets for BB & FB.

ModerateOne 3 years, 11 months ago

Many season ticket holders moved to a LOT better location this year. It was very significant to them.

sherbert 3 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, but not the ones who lost their tickets after decades of loyalty and contributions.

shark7801 3 years, 10 months ago

ghawke, just to let you know, this whole scam was started and went on long before Lew got to Lawrence. Trust me, I know. All the way back to when Bohl and Fredricks were AD's. So, you may not have liked Perkins, but don't put all the blame on him.

Collegenut 3 years, 11 months ago

It is going to be interesting to see what all happens to be taken back. The $$ is one thing but what property did he buy with the money? Always saw Jones hanging out with Danny Manning at Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament. Hope that he is not involved as well! They were big buddies for a long time. It is really interesting that the KU investigation did not figure out that Kassie Liebsch was involved. They promoted her after the investigation! What is up with that? Who else is involved in the ticket office? Liebsch's boyfriend still works there...is he involved? He had to know something!

Ricky_Vaughn 3 years, 11 months ago

There's got to be a hell of a lot more than 5 or 6 people involved in this...bumbling LEO only caught 5 or 6 of them.

Bob Forer 3 years, 11 months ago

Kassie bought a Camry with a portion of her proceeds.. What did Rodney buy? A bad haircut?

Judgesmails 3 years, 11 months ago

"Proceeds from the sale of season basketball tickets through one Kansas City ticket broker alone surpassed $975,000"

thats crazy.

surprised natl media is not on this story more.

greenworld 3 years, 11 months ago

How was Lew Perkins not involved in any of this?? This is just to hard to believe. What paid for all the flights and workout equipment?? His million dollar salary or was it giving to him? All this is just to hard to believe. Although I did once see a picture of President Bush shaking Bin Laden's hand. Hmmm!!

KEITHMILES05 3 years, 11 months ago

Last summer I saw Jones hanging out with Self's wife at AAU tourney in Shawnee. I was astounded she'd want to be seen with him. Jones is pure scum. If the government doesn't confiscate the money he was able to make from these ticket sales then it's a pretty sad day.

PennyBrite 3 years, 11 months ago

"He also must forfeit any assets gained as a result of the scheme."

Someone help me out here......how would they even begin to know which assets those are? Unless he kept this money separate from the scheme money, if they questioned him about his car...... "nope -- I bought that with my own money" etc. How do they go about finding out where he may have stashed money for later? If he does 3-5 years that may seem like nothing to him -- when he gets out, he doesn't even need a job! He's probably set for life on what he stashed.

BobtheBuilder 3 years, 11 months ago

When I was working on houses in Bauer Brook, I noticed that Rodney was always at Doug Compton's house. It was always Dave Freeman, Rodney Jones, and Doug Compton. In fact, I saw Rodney at Compton's birthday party just a couple of months ago. Lew Perkins was there too. Are these guys all involved in this? I'm not saying they are, I'm just curious. I know that Compton has many seats to basketball games. Is he paying for all of them? Usually where there's smoke, there's fire.

BruceWayne 3 years, 11 months ago

wednesday night did you see whom was sitting right behind the team at Iowa State? Mr. Compton.

BorderRuffian 3 years, 11 months ago

When are we going to hear about Lew Perkins's part in all of this?

Haiku_Cuckoo 3 years, 11 months ago

Actually that was covered in the other article regarding Kassie Liebsch. She said they hid the scam from Perkins, telling him that they had software that could detect ticket fraud issues. He had no part in it.

hbjayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

He is sorry . . . sorry he got caught.

opobserver 3 years, 11 months ago

Handley said "Jones deeply regrets". Yeah, he deeply regrets he got caught! Yeah, I heard he has been working on stashing the $ for several months now. Could be up to 5 million? This guy needs to serve 20 yrs, so when he gets out he wll be too old to enjoy the cash that he stashed. Hey Keith Mile, I agree---pure scum,

blindrabbit 3 years, 11 months ago

Rockchalk1977: It is apparent from your many posts on a variety of subjects that your have some strange fixation on President Obama and the Democrat Party. No matter the story, this gives you a convenient way to show your prejudices, and place blames. By-the-way, my cat coughed up a big hairball yesterday, I called the vet., he blamed it on the President's talk at the Tucson memorial.

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

Bonus points for showing Jones all slumped over, pale, and kind of frumpy. Big difference from his tanned "official" KU pic. Perkins is definitely in on this somewhere.

leftylucky 3 years, 11 months ago

Kansas Secretary of State filings for non-profit corporations. Used to be University of Kansas athletics. Lew seperated the University of Kansas as the parent company into Kansas Athletics Inc. The corporate papers list the principals who make the decisions. Hopefully that will change and go back under the University of Kansas where there is more oversite than previously. A request needs to be paid for using a credit card and the filings come quickly. 50 dollars gets a person all the filings from 1925-2010.

yankeevet 3 years, 11 months ago

Everybody who has pleaded guilty thus far has agreed to cooperate with authorities in prosecuting the remaining defendants. That’s another standard feature of criminal conspiracies and how they splinter.

The scramble began months ago.

When the case began to unravel in March 2010, according to an internal university report, Kirtland reported to university officials that Jones had discussed trying to pin the whole scandal on Liebsch.

“In Kirtland’s words, Jones wanted to ‘throw Kassie Liebsch …under the bus,’ ” according to the report. “Jones wanted Kirtland to agree to say, ‘Liebsch misused the tickets and took the tickets herself.’ ”

But as the guilty pleas this week have demonstrated, that blame continues to spread.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/14/2584927/with-another-guilty-plea-focus.html#ixzz1B7lD3tUb

Rodney_Hater 3 years, 11 months ago

The university is out millions of dollars................what do you call big money? You're statement doesn't make sense.

Rodney_Hater 3 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

opobserver 3 years, 11 months ago

Hey Rodney_Hater, you and I are two of a kind. A woman in Lawrence got 8 years for stealing 245,000. What do you suppose Rodney will get for stealing millions?

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