Joseph Meli has been sentenced by a federal court in Manhattan to over six years in prison in connection with a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme involving tickets to popular concerts and Broadway shows including Hamilton. The sentence followed Meli’s guilty plea to charges of securities fraud in the fall following his arrest in January of 2017.
On Tuesday, the court sentenced him to 78 months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. He has also been fined just shy of $1.5 million, and will be required to pay restitution to his victims, according to the SEC.
Meli will serve his time at Lewisburg Camp in Pennsylvania, a minimum security facility operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, according to reporting by Amplify. He will surrender to the U.S. Marshal Service to begin serving his sentence on June 28.
From the SEC release announcing the sentencing:
In 2017, the SEC filed two enforcement actions against Meli in federal district court in Manhattan. In the first action, the SEC alleged that Meli and his co-defendants solicited investments for the bulk purchase and resale of tickets to popular Broadway shows and concerts, but used the majority of the more than $97 million raised to make payments to earlier investors and to enrich Meli, his family, and a co-defendant. On April 26, 2017, the court entered a preliminary injunction and asset freeze against Meli and his co-defendants in that matter. In the second action, the SEC alleged that Meli and New York sports radio personality Craig Carton raised millions from investors by falsely claiming that they had access to large blocks of face-value tickets to popular concert performances. Instead of purchasing tickets for resale, Carton and Meli allegedly misappropriated at least $3.6 million to repay earlier investors and to cover other expenses, including Carton’s gambling debts. Both SEC actions charge Meli and his co-defendants with securities fraud in violation of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC’s litigation against Meli and his co-defendants remains ongoing.
Amplify speculated that Meli did himself no favors at sentencing with a recent curfew violation. U.S. Attorneys reportedly told Judge Kimbra Woods that Meli had been out an hour past curfew a day before the sentence was handed down. Whether or not that was a factor in the Judge deciding to hand down a sentence in line with what the government had requested rather than the lighter 2-3 year sentence Meli’s attorneys had requested is anybody’s guess.
Craig Carton, the sports talk radio star who is charged with fraud for his alleged role in the scheme, has maintained his innocence – indeed, he claims that he was a victim of Meli’s fraud rather than a co-conspirator – recently had his criminal trial date set for late October.