Archive for Friday, January 28, 2011

Tom Blubaugh pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in KU ticket scandal case

Former consultant is latest to admit guilt in conspiracy case

Former Kansas Athletics Inc. consultant Thomas Ray Blubaugh arrives at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, to plead guilty on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Blubaugh was sentenced to 46 months of prison for his role in the tickets scheme, which prosecutors say cost Kansas Athletics $2 million.

Former Kansas Athletics Inc. consultant Thomas Ray Blubaugh arrives at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, to plead guilty on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Blubaugh was sentenced to 46 months of prison for his role in the tickets scheme, which prosecutors say cost Kansas Athletics $2 million.

January 28, 2011, 10:43 a.m. Updated January 28, 2011, 2:30 p.m.

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Former University of Kansas athletic department consultant, Thomas Ray Blubaugh, left, and his attorney Steve Robison arrive at the U.S. Federal Courthouse, in Wichita, Kan., on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, to plead guilty on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say he, 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, left, and his attorney Steve Robison arrive at the U.S. Federal Courthouse, in Wichita, Kan., on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, to plead guilty on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say he, 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.

— Tom Blubaugh pleaded guilty Friday to his role in a scam to steal tickets and share in more than $2 million of illegal proceeds generated by selling KU basketball and football tickets through brokers and others.

The admission of guilt came in the same courtroom and a day after his wife and former boss of the KU ticket office, Charlette Blubaugh, likewise pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The Blubaughs each 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.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown accepted Tom Blubaugh’s plea and scheduled sentencing for 10:30 a.m. April 14, the second Blubaugh sentencing set for that day.

Tom Blubaugh, who walks with a cane, accepted Brown’s offer to sit during much of Friday’s hearing. And while he struggled at times to hear some of the judge’s questions, he made it clear that he understood the situation.

“Are you telling me that you’re guilty?” Brown said.

“Yes, sir,” Tom Blubaugh said, affirming his plea through a series of similar responses. “Guilty, your honor.”

Tom Blubaugh is the sixth person to plead guilty in the tickets scam, and the fourth to admit to conspiracy to commit wire fraud — joining Charlette Blubaugh; Rodney Jones, former assistant athletics director for the Williams Fund; and Kassie Liebsch, a former systems analyst who resigned last year after taking over for Charlette Blubaugh in the ticket office.

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

All are awaiting sentencing and have agreed to cooperate with investigators and prosecutors.

Still awaiting trial on a conspiracy charge is Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director for development. His trial is scheduled to begin March 8 in Wichita.

Richard Hathaway, assistant U.S. attorney, didn’t disclose any new information during Friday’s hearing regarding Tom Blubaugh’s involvement, nor would he comment afterward about whether Kirtland’s case would go to trial. Kirtland’s attorney, Robin Fowler, also has declined to discuss the case.

Tom Blubaugh worked at KU as a consultant beginning in August 2007, Hathaway said, after having served as a former director of athletic ticket operations at the University of Oklahoma. Kansas Athletics Inc. paid Tom Blubaugh a total of $115,000, with all such payments approved by Kirtland, according to an investigation conducted for KU.

But Tom Blubaugh was earning much more from his sale of tickets, working in tandem with his wife and in a conspiracy that included others within the department.

Charlette Blubaugh would receive KU tickets from the department’s printing contractor, then set aside a “large number” for distribution to others involved in the scam, said Richard Hathaway, assistant U.S. attorney. The tickets then would be funneled to brokers, with proceeds coming back in cash.

Together, the Blubaughs also handled a “substantial quantity” of stolen tickets themselves, to be marketed through an intermediary for sales in Oklahoma, Hathaway said. The Blubaughs then split those cash profits.

Tom Blubaugh intentionally conducted such business in cash “so (that) money from the ticket sales could not be traced back to him,” Hathaway said. “He concealed … the fact that he had this outside income.”

Tom Blubaugh and his attorney, Stephen Robison, declined to comment about the plea following the hearing.

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Comments

BobtheBuilder 4 years, 3 months ago

Who are all of these people going to testify against as part of their plea agreement? Surely, Mr. Kirtland isn't that big of a fish in the university pond, is he? I wonder if there are others that knew about this, especially the ones who supposedly received duffle bags of cash several times.

missmagoo 4 years, 3 months ago

I've been wondering the same thing. Besides, I thought the ringleader in all this was Rodney Jones, who's already plead out. It's ironic, also, that only Liebsch and Tom, Simmons and Jeffries have stated their profit from this scam... so between Charlette, Kirtland, and Jones we're looking at the other __million dollars?

4everahawk 4 years, 3 months ago

Articles keep saying he was a consultant from 2007-2010. Look at the exhibits and see that his first invoice to athletics was Sept 2004. Why does this keep being overlooked? In the beginning, invoices were sent to 'athletics' and then after a few years, they were sent to Ben Kirkland.

friendlyjhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

I agree. This is directly related to the braze, rude way Perkins allowed people to be treated and the way he chased the almighty dollar while thumbing his big ol' nose at the fans

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

+1. Lew's tenure created in the Athletic Department a "culture of greed" which sowed further seeds of greed resulting in the ticket scandal.

flux 4 years, 3 months ago

Its hard to have visitation if both partners are in prison

Kontum1972 4 years, 3 months ago

hope they all love their new room-mates.....kiss me roomie...or else!

LinksOK 4 years, 3 months ago

RalphRalph - Thanks - seen this, just sayin Holly Perkins is an associate in the Labor and Employment Group. Her practice focuses on traditional labor and employment law and includes defending large and small employers in both state and federal courts and before state and federal agencies. Representative matters include allegations of sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, and discrimination claims including age, race, disability and sex discrimination. Her practice also includes all facets of management-union relations, including representing employers in matters relating to union avoidance, providing assistance to companies that are involved in union organizing campaigns, and representing management in labor arbitrations. Memberships and Affiliations

* Girls on the Run of Johnson County,  Board of Directors

* Judicial Externship, The Honorable John Lungstrum, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Somewhere the number $5,000,000 has popped up.

How much was Freeman in it for?

It would seem some big money players had to be involved in order to cover the cost of stolen tickets. None of the convicted to date seem to have big money readily available...

Was someone cookin the books?

Richard Payton 4 years, 3 months ago

Reminds me of the yellow house trial where Guy&Carrie Neighbors should have known they were selling stolen goods. These brokers should have known these tickets were hot in more than one way.

xclusive85 4 years, 3 months ago

Especially when they were writing checks to cash!

giggity79 4 years, 3 months ago

Funny.... When tom and his disgusting wife moved to Lawrence I sold them a Cadillac Escalade ESV premium (heated and cooled cup holders, two sun roofs, DVD, just loaded) and he said "we love our sooners, bit this is the opportunity of a life time for both of us"..... I then gave him directions to the plaza.... In hindsight hmmmmmmm

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

The only upside for Tom Blubaugh is that the Federal Bureau of Prisons food service does not offer seconds or thirds. Think of it as "forced weight loss."

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

12-18 months house arrest with permission to work. The thought of going to prison should make this work.

Paying that money back will be a ton of punishment

Now where are the brains and money behind this scam?

smarty_pants 4 years, 2 months ago

Living high on the hog takes on a whole new meaning after seeing Tom and Charlotte's pics. Never enough, never satisfied, always got to have more...and more...and just a little more...

BruceWayne 4 years, 2 months ago

Tom Blubaugh, who walks with a cane, accepted Brown’s offer to sit during much of Friday’s hearing. And while he struggled at times to hear some of the judge’s questions, he made it clear that he understood the situation.

so he's fat and deaf?

homechanger 4 years, 2 months ago

Headline should read" greedy tub of lard pleads guilty". Disgusting. I'll bet chief Olin will never let this happen again. Right?

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