Federal prosecutors have brought their first charges from a probe into the recently uncovered ticket scalping scandal at the University of Kansas. These charges follow an internal investigation by the university, which alleged that numerous Athletic Department employees were involved in the illegal sale of nearly $1 million in sports tickets.
Two assistants to former KU Associate Athletic Director Charlette Blubaugh were charged for allegedly funneling a significant number of tickets to her employees for the purposes of profiting on their resale to ticket brokers. The University’s internal probe concluded that these two assistants sold a total of $200,000 worth of tickets to brokers over recent years.
Charged were Jason Jeffries, KU’s former Assistant Director for Ticket Operations, and Brandon W. Simmons, former Assistant Director for Sales and Marketing. Both were charged with misprision of felony, or having the knowledge of a committed felony and acting to concealing it. Criminal information documents filed in Topeka’s federal court allege that Simmons and Jeffries were aware of the theft of over $5,000 in tickets from KU’s Athletic Department but failed to report this to authorities. Criminal information documents are usually released with the defendant’s consent, their presence typically signaling that a defendant is preparing to plead guilty.
Those found guilty of misprision of felony face fines, up to three years of prison time, or both.
Jeffries is scheduled to make his first court appearance on July 14 in a Wichita court. At that time, he is restricted to entering only a not guilty plea, though there is a planned change-of-plea hearing scheduled immediately after. Simmons has the same series of hearings scheduled for the following day.
At this time, Simmons’ attorney, Mark Bennett, Jr, has said in a statement that his client currently is undecided on entering a guilty plea, and it is unclear whether or not Simmons will cooperate with the federal probe.
Jeffries’ attorney, Tom Haney, has said in a statement that his client is cooperating with investigations and may plead guilty to the charge.
In May, KU released the results of their internal probe into the ticketing scheme, concluding that five AD staffers and one consultant were likely involved in the unauthorized sale of football and basketball tickets belonging to the Athletic Department between 2005 and 2010. The probe determined that those involved had a part in illegally obtaining nearly 20,000 basketball and football tickets from the department, with a value totaling approximately $1 million. The investigators were unable to determine how many of these tickets were subsequently sold to brokers.
This $1 million figure could climb even higher, with allegations of ticket scalping from the Athletic Department going back to the 2002 Big 12 Tournament, and with the likelihood that federal subpoenas will extract more details than KU’s internal probe could.
The University, led by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, recently proposed safeguards to the University’s ticketing system in order to reduce the risk of similar ticketing scandals.