Archive for Monday, March 7, 2011

Brandon Simmons, Jason Jeffries sentenced to two years probation, must repay thousands of dollars in KU ticket scandal

Brandon Simmons and Jason Jeffries

Brandon Simmons and Jason Jeffries

March 7, 2011, 11:11 a.m. Updated March 8, 2011, 12:27 a.m.


— Brandon Simmons and Jason Jeffries will spend the next two years trying to pay back some of the thousands of dollars they took illegally from Kansas Athletics Inc. and, by extension, season-ticket holders, Kansas University fans and Jayhawk supporters overall.

Trying to repair the damage left behind by their actions, and those of five other conspirators in a sweeping tickets scandal, may be even harder.

The two were sentenced Monday morning by a U.S. District Court judge in Wichita to spend two years on probation.

“I made a terrible error in this circumstance,” said Simmons, a former assistant athletic director for sales and marketing, who now works in Lenexa and recently earned a promotion from his boss. “I know words alone will be cheap, but mine will not come without action.”

Jeffries, a former assistant director of ticket operations within the athletics department, apologized for “betraying the trust” of his family, friends, KU donors and fans. He still lives in Lawrence, volunteers at church and stays at home with his three children while his wife heads off to work.

He’s looking for a job.

“I took a wrong turn off my life path,” said Jeffries, during his sentencing hearing. “This was selfish behavior on my part. It was unacceptable, and it will never happen again.”

Monday morning, the two former co-workers became the first of seven defendants to be sentenced after pleading guilty in federal court for their roles in the tickets scheme, one that prosecutors say ran from 2005 to 2010 and cost the department at least $2 million.

Simmons and Jeffries had pleaded guilty in July to misprision of a felony, or essentially failing to notify authorities about the scam they knew to be occurring.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown sentenced Simmons and Jeffries to two years of probation, and to pay restitution: Simmons must pay $157,480, and Jeffries must pay $56,000.

Just how much they’ll actually pay remains unclear. Brown ordered the two men to pay at least 5 percent of their gross monthly incomes to the government during the next two years, as directed by their probation officers.

“Don’t underestimate their ability to help you,” Brown told Jeffries.

Officials at Kansas Athletics have said that they will wait until all conspirators have been sentenced before determining how or whether to proceed in seeking money from the court to help compensate for the department’s losses. The IRS also is in line for money, including the $2 million joint forfeiture that the five other conspirators already have agreed to.

Simmons and Jeffries aren’t legally responsible for any of the $2 million pool. During their hearings Monday, both attempted to distance themselves from their five former colleagues and conspirators: Charlette and Tom Blubaugh, Rodney Jones, Ben Kirtland and Kassie Liebsch, all of whom have pleaded guilty to a more serious charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

“My guy was a tickets salesman and loved KU — until they hired Charlette Blubaugh (in 2004),” said Thomas Haney, Jeffries’ attorney, after the hearing. “She was directly responsible for my client’s conduct.”

An internal investigation conducted for KU found that Charlette Blubaugh had provided Jeffries and Simmons tickets worth more than $200,000, which were sold through brokers. Jeffries started with four extra sets of season tickets for men’s basketball, a total that grew to 20 and more each year, according to the report.

Jeffries received 56 sets of season tickets for the 2009 season alone, KU’s investigators determined, and Jeffries simply wiped the seat locations from a dry-erase board used to track which tickets would be available for Williams Fund donors.

Simmons, meanwhile, had told KU’s investigators that he’d received $212,480 for the tickets sold in 2007 through 2010 through a friend of his working as a ticket broker in Norman, Okla.

After the hearing, Simmons’ attorney, Mark Bennett, praised his client for helping provide documents that KU’s own investigators acknowledged had marked “one of the turning points” of the investigation.

“This is the finest young man I’ve ever represented in my 50 years,” Bennett said, outside the courtroom. “He stepped up and began cooperating at the very beginning, and has continued to cooperate. …

“There’s no question in my mind that this young man will go a long way in his life. He’s top drawer.”

As convicted felons, both Simmons and Jeffries cannot ever own a gun or ammunition, and must provide DNA samples to authorities. They do not, however, need to submit to mandatory drug testing, although Brown reminded each of them that they must avoid any misconduct while on probation.

“And by that, I mean ‘any,’ ” Brown said.

The other five conspirators still face sentencing hearings in the coming weeks and months, and Jeffries, for one, doesn’t plan on being back in Brown’s court again.

“I promise you that you will never see me again in this case,” he told the judge.

Outside the courtroom, Jeffries’ attorney noted that his client had done his work: All five other defendants already have pleaded guilty, and that no other potential defendants appear to be in investigators’ sights.

“I think it’s over,” Haney said. “It should be over. It’s (certainly) over as far as my client is concerned."


ralphralph 7 years ago

Steal + Get Caught = You have to give back part of the money, if you can.

Brutal treatment. I'm expecting SPLC-led protests over this cruel punishment.

Oh, to be a frat boy ...

slowplay 7 years ago

Your reading comprehension is lacking. They didn't steal anything. They didn't profit. Their crime was failing to report a criminal activity. I'm not making excuses, they deserved what they got.

Danielle Brunin 7 years ago

If they didn't steal anything, then why are they paying restitution?

notyourmom 7 years ago

I don't understand either. From what I can tell, their only crime was not reporting a crime, which I didn't realize was illegal. It appears as if they did not gain from this "crime" so I'm not sure what the restitution is for either.

number1jayhawker 7 years ago

The University lost thousands of dollars AFTER these two guys gained knowledge of the crimes. That part of it could have been prevented if they would have gone to the authorities immediately.

notyourmom 7 years ago

Again, I was unaware that not reporting a crime was illegal, no matter what the outcome of the crime is.

slowplay 7 years ago

It's called "accessory after the fact", or "active concealment". I have no idea how they came with the amounts for restitution.

Danielle Brunin 7 years ago

Thanks. I mean, I'm of the opinion that what they did was the same as stealing, but it would be interesting to know how they came up with the dollar amounts.

notyourmom 7 years ago

My Black's Law Dictionary says, "Mere silence or approval of a crime does not incur liability. 81 Mo. 483". And for it to rise to a level of accessory and action must be taken to assist or contribute to the crime in a secondary way. Or to obstruct justice by giving comfort to the criminal offender.

Uhjh 7 years ago

What a slap on the wrist. How about at least some sort of a fine or 120 days in jail and then probation. If I comment a crime like stealing I would be in jail.

Clickker 7 years ago

what about the elder Morningstar? Is he still involved here?

slowplay 7 years ago

"what about the elder Morningstar? Is he still involved here?".... He never was "involved here". Where do you get this stuff?

OutlawJHawk 7 years ago

Dave Freeman, who is in prison, gave the feds info on this whole scheme hoping to soften his sentence. Rodger was Dave's business partner for many years. Hard to imagine Morningstar knew nothing about Dave's many antics and unscrupulous associations. With that said, Rodger didn't need tickets; he is a part of the KU basketball fraternity. And he made plenty of money building houses and working as a sports rep.

Don Whiteley 7 years ago

I think it was fairly obvious that while operating illegally, a lot of these tickets went to fairly high placed and high income KU sports fans. How come those pigs don't get stuck with having to pay for the tickets they received?

Kontum1972 7 years ago

the elder Morningstar will come over and paint your house....LOL!

daddax98 7 years ago

they did pay for the tickets, where do you think the money involved came from?

4everahawk 7 years ago

They both received 56 ADDITIONAL season tickets above the 2 they were supposed to receive as staff. This went on I believe for 2 years. There are documents...actual receipts, from the broker who bought them for a total of almost $200,000!!! That is why the restitution costs are what they are. They didn't just know what was going on, they were profitting from the tickets as well.

yankeevet 7 years ago

Crime does pay in Kansas................what a joke...........

sr80 7 years ago

As long as your a rich elitist fratboy with a daddy who contributes to KU,i suppose they could/will get away with anything they desire and remember they are such fine young men!!! Now thats the joke!!!!!

sr80 7 years ago

Sorry your punk friends got busted!!! go join your buddies!!!!!! KR u r the LOSER!!!!!!

begin60 7 years ago

I have a bracing idea: KU's lawyers need to be reported to the Bar/ doing jail time. They are ruining the atmosphere of Lawrence with their underhanded, conflict-of-interest politics and abusing the local law enforcement system to exact revenge against those who complain about KU HR felonious conduct.

kugrad 7 years ago

Lucky for them they were not black, hispanic, or poor. They'd be looking at 10-20 hard time.

The lady from Yellow House gets 8 years. Tom Delay gets 3 years for massive fraud. This is a slap on the wrist for a major crime. Now, I admit these guys seem to have been at the bottom of the heap, but I am not holding my breath for jail time for those at the top.

You can get all the justice money and the right skin color can buy here in Kansas.

Wayne Propst 7 years ago

How did these punks get their $140,000.00 jobs? Who did they know?

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

"You can get all the justice money and the right skin color can buy here in Kansas." === Some truth in that; it works both ways. O.J. comes to mind. Claus Von Bulow killed his wife and got away with it too. = I'm not sure what the proper punishment here is. I'd make them park cars for 20 years outside the Field House wearing signs stating they are greedy thieves, and ban them from all KU sporting events for life. They may not even be fans, who knows? It is interesting, if you steal $300 from 7-11 with a gun, you will get years in jail. If you steal $300 million with a briefcase and a good legal team, you get a fine and maybe probation, if any punishment is administered at all. The Wall Street guys are still getting huge bonuses, paid for partially by taxpayers. Sigh.

Kontum1972 7 years ago

this guys look pretty happy in these pics....guess they will be running for political office after they pay for their fines....

Louis White 7 years ago

A new eliteist mantra to counter "if it fits, you must acquit"..."if you're white, I guess it's alright."

pace 7 years ago

Lew should be somewhere. He "didn't know" his job was to know. One could tell from the letters to the editor, complaints from long time plans and alumni, Something about tickets stunk, Did he have a clothes pin on his nose.

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

Pace: That's the ultimate question, isn't it? Lew should have know, or knew and turned his back. The fish rots from the head. He should be culpable in some way because he was 'in charge.' I still wonder if all the guilty pleas and light sentences were intended to get a bigger fish to fry. Wonder if it's all over except for counting the money lost/stolen and the money some still probably have hidden away........Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Andrea Hoag 7 years ago

This is so disappointing all the way around. These men should have known better. It's also disgusting these slicksters were pulling in annual salaries in the 140k range and still felt the need to cheapen the name of KU basketball in such a way. The average salary of tenured professors in Liberal Arts and Sciences should be adjusted up to this rate to reflect the tireless enthusiasm they show dedicating their professional lives to teaching the next generation of thinkers. Mind-boggling.

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