Wichita A federal judge said Monday he wanted to hear more evidence before he ruled on a request by a former consultant for Kansas University who is seeking to have his sentence shortened for his role in a $2 million ticket scalping conspiracy he helped conceal.
U.S. District Judge Monti Belot ordered U.S. marshals to bring Thomas Ray Blubaugh back for an evidentiary hearing. A date for the proceeding will be set after Blubaugh returns to Kansas from the federal prison in El Reno, Okla.
Blubaugh and his wife, Charlette, the university’s former ticket director, were among seven people convicted in a scheme involving tickets to football and basketball games that cost the university athletic department $2 million.
Thomas Blubaugh pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to defraud the United States through wire fraud, tax obstruction and interstate transportation of stolen property. He is seeking to reduce his 46-month prison sentence to 33 months. Blubaugh claims the court improperly considered the value of so-called deadwood tickets he had hidden in a storage facility. He also contends he had ineffective counsel and says he was promised probation in return for helping the government.
Prosecutors have urged the court to deny the request and enforce a plea agreement that prohibits Blubaugh from appealing his conviction and sentence. The government also argued against Blubaugh’s claim that he got a longer sentence than most other defendants, calling him the “right hand helper to his wife who is arguably the most culpable and placed the ball in play that started this criminal enterprise.”
Belot took over the case from U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, who sentenced Blubaugh just months before he died. Belot said in a one-page order that unless the motion and records of the case conclusively show a defendant is entitled to no relief, he is entitled to a prompt hearing.
The former ticket consultant claims the court erred in allowing the government to use information he provided, the so-called deadwood tickets, to help determine the sentence recommended for him.
The government, however, contends authorities already knew about the tickets. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway cited a May 2010 investigative report by university, which said Charlette Blubaugh told other defendants that basketball ticket sales could not be reconciled and those records should be moved to the football stadium. The records would then be destroyed, and conspirators would blame their loss on construction at the stadium.
Prosecutors said the only significant revelation from Thomas Blubaugh was that the tickets had been stored in a private storage facility instead of being destroyed.