In an unusual twist to what had played out as a very familiar story in the live entertainment world, a the promoter tied to the University of Hawaii “Wonder Blunder” is trying to withdraw his guilty plea in the case. The reason? He claims the plea stemmed from a fear of the mafia, specifically fear that prosecutors would expose his cooperation in a case brought against members of organized crime (AKA the mafia) on the east coast.
Marc Hubbard, 50, of Charlotte, North Carolina, allegedly defrauded the University of Hawaii from March to October 2012, promising he could secure Stevie Wonder for a concert on the island. He claimed that he was in contact with Wonder’s management, and said he would provide the $250,000 deposit to Wonder. The university began selling tickets before finding out that neither Wonder nor his representatives had authorized the show. Hubbard admitted he had no connections to Wonder, the concert was never going to take place, and he took $147,000 for himself.
He pled guilty to charges of wire fraud in 2016, but filed a motion to withdraw that plea earlier the day prior to his sentencing hearing. The motion was unsealed this week at the request of prosecutors and The Associated Press. In the motion, Hubbard said he was coerced into pleading guilty because his family was at risk for mob retaliation.
According to court documents, Hubbard had pled guilty in a Philadelphia case to federal charges alleging that he defrauded investors in a concert promotion business. A judge had sentenced him to 6 1/2 years in prison. According to the Charlotte Observer, Hubbard claims that he pleaded guilty in the Hawaii case only because “a prosecutor in Philadelphia threatened to expose that he had recorded conversations for the FBI with purported members of an organized crime group.” In a document that was unsealed last week, he said he pleaded out of “fear that I would be injured or killed and my family would be harmed as well.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Wallenstein wrote in a court document that it took Hubbard more than a year to change his plea and “is merely a last-ditch effort to escape responsibility for the crimes that he committed.”
“That cooperation had absolutely nothing to do with Hubbard’s Hawaii case, and there is no reason why individuals on the East Coast who purportedly wished to harm him would care one way or the other whether he pled guilty in Hawaii,” Wallenstein continued, claiming that his argument of being coerced is “illogical.”
In a response filed last Wednesday, Hawaii prosecutors said Hubbard’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea should be denied. His Philadelphia sentence “does not excuse his delay in bringing this motion, nor does it constitute a fair and just reason why he should be permitted to withdraw his plea,” the filing said.
Currently, Hubbard is being held at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center and is scheduled for a hearing on March 19. It’s not clear when or if the judge will rule that Hubbard rescind his guilty plea.