Jason Nissen, formerly the head of the National Event Ticket Co., entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud on Wednesday in New York. The plea agreement calls for him to serve anywhere from five to ten years in prison, with a sentencing hearing in New York on August 21.
“I know that my conduct was wrong and I wish to apologize to those who trusted me with their investments and loans and for any harm I have caused,” Nissen said, according to Bloomberg. “I am to blame for what I did.”
In addition to the potential prison time, Nissen faces a fine as high as $250,000 and will have to repay the victims as much as $72 million in restitution. The 45 year old Long Island resident pledged to work diligently to repay the victims and apologized to his family at the hearing. Attorney Michael Bachner stressed in a statement that his client did not “benefit personally from any of his actions,” and is “utterly remorseful for any harm he may have caused.”
“From the moment Mr. Nissen voluntarily brought his misconduct to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he has acted diligently to help the trustee to recoup the loans,” Bachner said, according to the New York Law Journal.
As CEO of NECO, Nissen and his staff procured tickets to high profile events for resale, including shows like Hamilton on Broadway and major sporting events. According to Bloomberg, after three years of operating above-board, a string of bad investments and poor sales caused him to begin perpetrating fraud around 2015- specifically using money procured from new investors to repay older debts.
“They’re inflated numbers. We really had those events and really sold the tickets and they’re inflated, you know, two or threefold depending on how it was,” Nissen said in a conversation with one victim, which taped the exchange without his knowledge.
Prosecutors said Nissen forged financial documents and ledgers and sent them to victims as proof of how their money was being used. Nissen eventually was unable to secure further financing and admitted to executives of the diamond company that he had been operating a Ponzi scheme, according to the complaint.
Nissen was arrested in May of last year, with NECO filing for bankruptcy protection soon after.