Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2011

Former KU athletics fundraiser Rodney Jones sentenced to 46 months in federal prison

March 31, 2011, 11:08 a.m. Updated March 31, 2011, 2:05 p.m.


— The former leader of fundraising for Kansas University athletics was sentenced Thursday morning to nearly four years in prison for taking part in a $2 million ticket scheme that illegally delivered thousands of tickets for KU basketball and football games to brokers and others.

Rodney Jones, who had led the ticket office for Kansas Athletics Inc. before becoming assistant athletics director for the Williams Fund, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison. He had pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Jones also must pay all or part of nearly $1.2 million in restitution to Kansas Athletics, and alone is responsible for paying nearly $114,000 to the Internal Revenue Service to cover unpaid federal taxes, U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown ruled.

In court, Jones said he wanted to “deeply apologize” to federal authorities, Kansas Athletics, all Jayhawk fans, as well as his family, friends — and, especially, to his son, Parker.

“I have made a terrible mistake that I will continue to pay for for the rest of my life,” Jones said.


Brown sentenced Jones in U.S. District Court in Wichita, where a day earlier the judge had sentenced one of Jones’ former colleagues — Kassie Liebsch — to 37 months in prison. It’s also where five other former colleagues already have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme, which prosecutors say lasted for five years before all resigned in the wake of a scandal that a KU investigation said cost the department more than $3 million.

Jones and his fellow conspirators took tickets — more than 17,000 for men’s basketball, and more than 2,000 for football, according to the KU investigation — that otherwise would have been available for members of the Williams Fund and others. The tickets then were sold through brokers and provided to others for the conspirators’ personal gain.

The KU report concluded that Jones was a “selfish person who mistreated employees who were not in his favor,” and was someone who provided free tickets to friends, softball teammates and others. Among the beneficiaries was a landlord who had agreed to accept reduced rent payments in exchange for expected priority points in the Williams Fund.

“I have let many individuals down,” Jones told Brown.

‘I accept full responsibility’

Like Liebsch, Jones had faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But federal sentencing guidelines suggested that Jones should get between 46 and 57 months in prison.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence at the low end of the guidelines, while Jones and his attorney had urged a sentence of probation, community service, house arrest or placement in a halfway house.

In court documents, Jones maintained that he should receive consideration for probation because of his cooperation with prosecutors and investigators, including special agents from the FBI and IRS, and with the Kansas Board of Ethics. He also wanted to begin paying restitution sooner and fulfill his parental duties.

Brown acknowledged the contentions but sided with prosecutors, who said Jones’ “extensive and protracted” criminal conduct had brought him “vast wealth” that had allowed him to maintain an apartment on the Plaza In Kansas City, Mo., “frittering away his money on an extensive rolling party scene that persevered for five years.” The restitution total is based largely on Jones’ financial disclosures, which investigators had used polygraph testing to assess.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” Jones told Brown, and later indicated that he fully intends to pay back the money owed to Kansas Athletics and the IRS.

Brown ruled that at least 10 percent of any money deposited in Jones’ prison trust fund must go toward restitution. Then, after Jones is released from prison, at least 5 percent of his gross monthly income must go toward restitution during his three years of supervised release.

Among justifications for the sentence: “The defendant engaged in a conspiracy to defraud, and it went on for an extended period of time and caused extensive damage,” Brown said.


Jones and four former colleagues — Liebsch, Ben Kirtland and Charlette and Thomas Blubaugh — also share responsibility for a $2 million monetary judgment, which allows the federal government to pursue their finances and other assets that may have been amassed as a result of the criminal conspiracy. All have pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and the Blubaughs will be sentenced April 14, while Kirtland’s sentencing is set May 12.

Two other former co-workers — Jason Jeffries and Brandon Simmons — earlier had pleaded guilty to failing to report the crime to authorities. Brown placed them on probation.

Richard Hathaway, an assistant U.S. attorney who is prosecuting the cases, explained after Thursday’s hearing that restitution is ordered to help make victims “whole,” while forfeiture allows the government to prevent criminals from keeping any ill-gotten gains.

Brown ordered that Kansas Athletics Inc. is due a total of $1,197,084 in restitution, a total due jointly from all the conspirators in the wire fraud: Jones and Liebsch, who have been sentenced; and the Blubaughs and Kirtland, who still await sentencing. And Jones alone owes $113,843 in back taxes to the IRS, while Liebsch owes $79,864.

Kansas Athletics also may seek reimbursement through any assets that may be forfeited — Liebsch already has voluntarily given up a 2008 Toyota Camry that she’d purchased with cash proceeds from the scam, for example — but KU would not be able to receive a combination of restitution and forfeited assets that totaled more than $2 million.

But victims and the government rarely get all the money owed to them, Hathaway said.

“As a practical matter, by the time the case is closed, the money has been spent on attorneys’ fees and it has been frittered away,” Hathaway said. “But we always remain hopeful.”

KU officials aren’t saying yet whether they plan to seek reimbursement through forfeiture proceedings, preferring to wait until all of the conspirators have been sentenced.

“From when we first learned of these crimes, the KU community has been seeking justice,” said Jack Martin, a spokesman for KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Through these sentences, that justice is in the process of being delivered. We would like to thank the federal investigators and prosecutors for their diligent work in this case.”


justforfun 7 years, 2 months ago

Hang in there RJ! Your true friends will still be around.

nekkidinkansas 7 years, 2 months ago

You must have been in on the receiving end of his throwing money around all over town.

walleyefishn 7 years, 2 months ago

keep watching this site and you will know where his new home will be .bop inmate locater

walleyefishn 7 years, 2 months ago

p> . look up inmate locator type in his name. look up dave freeman he is in there and it shows a pic of his house.

Kontum1972 7 years, 2 months ago

so is the going away party at the Oread?

crimsonwithblue22 7 years, 2 months ago

From the KU Internal Investigation Final Report…… "Information developed during the witnesses interviews of fellow employees painted a picture of a selfish person who mistreated employees who were not in his favor. Further evidence was developed that Jones had lived in an apartment for several years at a reduced rate. The owner contacted KAI to inquire about the “priority points” he was promised by Jones. The quid pro quo for the favorable rent was supposed to be priority points. The landlord was informed that Jones no longer worked at KAI and that he had not been given the priority points."

Now who was the knucklehead landlord that truly thought they could get priority points strictly because Rodney Jones told him that would be the deal. Wouldn't you want to get that in writing on official letterhead from KAI or the KUAD before giving him the apartment at a "reduced rate"??

Richard Payton 7 years, 2 months ago

How many prisons still have cells called a hole? How does the "hole" differ from the other cells?

Pitt_Mackeson 7 years, 2 months ago

The "hole" or solitary confinement is common in medium prisons for inmates who have posed a threat to themselves or others. I don't know if they have them in maximum security prisons or supermax ones since their cells are already solitary confinement practically. The hole is usually reserved for those who are constantly bad to the bone.

last_laugh_at_her 7 years, 2 months ago

Rockin Rod; fast talking, hot tempered, ladies man from the sticks in Missouri. He was on the fast track of living and being and "insider". Kept Williams Fund donors waiting while he was cuttiing up with the young ladies in his and dine. Really there was no real you; just a user, using everyone to get a little higher. What did you use Perkins for? Where was that connection going to take you? Con man Jones. For those that might be interested he will play the people in the pen to get something, anything, That's the REAL Rodney Jones.

Terry Sexton 7 years, 2 months ago

I got no clue if you're right or wrong, but your description rocks! You'd be helluva mystery writer. If you ever do pen a tale, please lemme know. I'd love to read it.

opobserver 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow! You hit the nail on the head about Rockin Rod. He didn't have two nickels to rub together in them there sticks in Missouri. He thought he hit the big time. Women? You betcha. I just betcha he has a couple of other kids out there he doesn't know about. I'd win that bet. He should have gotten 20 yrs. so he'd be too old to enjoy the cash he stashed.

Victoria 7 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps Lew can support RJ's family in his absence since Lew avoided getting snagged in the net somehow.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 2 months ago

Why would he do that? Cassie said that they lied to Lew in order to keep him from knowing about it.

4everahawk 7 years, 2 months ago

While employed at KAI, he often would take a group of pretty young ladies to lunch and when asked about it, he said "Lew told me to take them out and buy them lunch".....hmmmm

lonelyboy 7 years, 2 months ago

Lot of young arrogant people in this dept ..

Tim Quest 7 years, 2 months ago

Adultery isn't illegal, but slander is. Watch it.

Victoria 7 years, 2 months ago

Well, hopefully the whole ticket office house has been cleaned and people there will behave as professionals, at least for a while. As with all organizations, someone has to be actively supervising and have expectations of standards, integrity, etc.

I'll get back to reality soon, I promise....

BruceWayne 7 years, 2 months ago

You can scrub it and clean it all you want, it's never going to be clean. So many questions... Where is Angel Morris employed? Tyshawn Taylor's mother? How does Mr. Compton get the seat behind Coach Self at the AWAY games? How did Roger Morningstar not know his business partner David Freeman was involved? Who bonded one of the basketball players mothers out of jail when she was arrested for DUI? How much did Lew really know? I have waited for years for a local reporter to blow this wide open. Does it not go as deep as many think? Is everyone covering for those much higher up? I can't see Rodney going to prison for 4 years if he indeed knew something on Lew...but I could be wrong. Maybe Rodney is willing to do the 4 years (fed time is easy time) and his been promised to be taken care of. Of course all this is pure speculation.

Joel Hood 7 years, 2 months ago

I see Tyshawn's mom working at HyVee on 6th all the time. She must be raking it in handling all that cash at the register...

jehovah_bob 7 years, 2 months ago

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

4everahawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Wilbur, you asked that question as if there was only one such situation....

Kawatchi 7 years, 2 months ago

Sad to see a kid have to grow up while his father is in prison, but Rodney got off pretty light, all things considered, particularly if there is room at a minimum security joint.

Steve Miller 7 years, 2 months ago

Can't wait until this reaches the top dude.

pace 7 years, 2 months ago

In this decade the buck stop on the middle levels.
The buck stops like a speeding bullet on Superman. Lew retires, comfortably, very comfortably. Wall street and bankers are sad but actually have more money. former homeowners are homeless. Tax cuts to the wealthiest, salary cuts to the front line workers.

Frightwig 7 years, 2 months ago

Moot point. It was determined long ago that Lew wasn't involved in the scam.

Kontum1972 7 years, 2 months ago

In court documents, Jones maintained that he should receive consideration for probation because of his cooperation with prosecutors and investigators — including special agents from the FBI and IRS, and with the Kansas Board of Ethics — and so he could begin paying restitution sooner and fulfill his parental duties.

what a joke-------> parental duties......that never entered his sleazy mind while he was ripping off the university....he doesnt know the first thing about being a good parent....

KEITHMILES05 7 years, 2 months ago

I found it very odd Jones was seen with Cindy Self last summer at some AAU games. I'd keep as far away from the scum bag as possible Mrs. Self!

KEITHMILES05 7 years, 2 months ago

The ticket scandal broke spring of 2010. The AAU tourney was August 2010.

opobserver 7 years, 2 months ago

He doesn't have a lot of intelligence. He apologizes to his son, and then names the poor kid! There are so many people named Jones, that maybe his son could have put it behind him, but hey, no--he "apologizes to his son Parker." Now everyone can make the connection on who the poor kids Dad (using the term loosely) is!

opobserver 7 years, 2 months ago

Hey Last Laugh, It seems as if you have an "inside" on the real Rodney Jones. I do as well, and I agree with every word you wrote. He will manage to come out of this smelling like a rose, because he will find someone else to use.

igby 7 years, 2 months ago

These people and their friends are the norm. In china, they drop your britches once a month and remind you just what your in jail for so you don't forget.

opobserver 7 years, 2 months ago

THANK YOU LAWRENCE JOURNAL! Yesterday this story was hidden in the Sports section, but today when I logged on it was the headline. This user who squandered the money meant for KUA, needs to be highlighted by media. KUA was nothing but the Good Ol Boys Club - well let's see how the good ole boys do at Pen State. RJ doesn't know the first thing about parental duties - not only to the son he mentioned, but to the other children he denied for years, right there in Lawrence. That's the rumor mill. I have a feeling we will hear a lot more about this scum.

Shardwurm 7 years, 2 months ago

Squandering money isn't a crime. All Univer$itie$ do it constantly.

justforfun 7 years, 2 months ago


We get that you don't like RJ, but to to post time after time your dislike is getting old. I am very good friends with Rodney and what he did was wrong, yes. The court has spoken and he will do his time, and yes it's gonna be tough on his son. He's a great kid and will have to deal with this the best he can with help from many. But, as I know on this forum you/others will now beat me up and continue on Rodney.

BruceWayne 7 years, 2 months ago

as a "very good friend", did you ever suspect this was going on? I am NOT beating you up, just curious.

justforfun 7 years, 2 months ago

And you roll with who? Can't wait to hear you say "not with your kind" etc.....

nekkidinkansas 7 years, 2 months ago

We're still waiting for an answer to BruceWayne's question.

BruceWayne 7 years, 2 months ago

since no one will ask, I will...did you ever receive cash or tickets from Rodney?

Kontum1972 7 years, 2 months ago

he will find true love in the Pen....thats the rule....

Paul R Getto 7 years, 2 months ago

"jehovah_bob (anonymous) says… ". . . we're not going to white-collar resort prison. No, no, no. We're going to federal pound me in the a** prison!" ==== JB: Perhaps, but I doubt it. people in suits who steal with briefcases usually get a pretty good prison assignment. If the big corporate types did have to go to the 'real deal' and lose their ill-gotten gains, it might have more impact over time. As for encouraging anal rape, I fail to see how that helps. Just sayin'..............

truckinman 7 years, 2 months ago

I want to know why Perkins got off with "nothing", but was hired as a coach??? Did he REALLY not know what was going on??????/ Seriously?!?!? I think not!!!!!!!

matahari 7 years, 2 months ago

He'll be out in 16, possibly 12 and maybe even 8...yeah, they like even numbers

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 2 months ago

The guy had a great job, probably the best he will ever have in his life.

Now he has nothing. He is less than nothing.

Why do people think that crime is a good deal?

MarcoPogo 7 years, 2 months ago

I use the free stones found on the ground; not them fancy $2 million rocks.

MarcoPogo 7 years, 2 months ago

You got me. I used to drink free sodas from the fountain at the gas station during my shift. I can therefore never make a post regarding anything.

Tell me, do the plants grow big and beautiful in your untainted glass house?

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 2 months ago

You have to look at the Human Resource manager or person who made the hiring decisions on all of these people.

I have seen a lot of people hired for sales positions who should not have been hired but they had some of the traits that HR considers desirable, such as confidence and an out going personality.

It looks to me like they made a lot of hires that were very bad choices. You have to wonder what kind of culture they have created that would foster this kind of greed and dishonesty.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 2 months ago

Kassie's story is the saddest of all because she was young enough to be naive and duped by a powerful looking boss to join his criminal activity.

It is a good lesson for every graduating KU student that you don't get excused for being young and inexperienced. Your morals and your ethics will be tested and you have to decide early what your standards are going to be.

Then you have to be ready to walk away when someone tempts you to lower them. We need to make the country better and our new graduates, their values and their standards are the hope for the future of this country.

I hope Kassie gets a chance to redeem herself so she can live a happy and productive life.

whatupdown 7 years, 2 months ago

Great, KU had no clue they were missing $$millions, so they wont miss $$millions more Mr. Gov. B. Good place to cut some "FAT" and FAT A$$ES.

pusscanthropus 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry to disappoint, Mr Teabagger, but KU Athletic Corporation is a private organization that is not funded by state money. It is not the University of Kansas--just an affiliated organization.

Donors do get tax breaks for donating to KUAC though--maybe they'll think about donating to academic programs now that they know their money was squandered.

Kontum1972 7 years, 2 months ago

just 4...well when u visit him in the Pen...come back and gives us a progress report....on how The ROD is doing....i am sure we will be interested...

opobserver 7 years, 2 months ago

His ex is a lawyer with the biggest firm in KC. She got out while the gettin' was good!

HogJiver 7 years, 2 months ago

Kansas Athletics needs to clean house and get this program back on the right track. Maybe they need to bring in Tony S to take care of business.

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