Craig Carton was found guilty of all charges in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, after less than a day of deliberation by members of the jury. The counts – which included securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud – could land the former sports talk radio star in prison for up to 45 years, according to the New York Post.
Carton, who served as a co-host of the popular “Boomer and Carton” radio show alongside former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, was found guilty of what the government characterized as a Ponzi-like scheme. Similar to Joe Meli, who copped to running his own scheme earlier this year, Carton lured potential investors with promises of insider deals on tickets direct from venues and promoters, then used their investments to pay previous investors or his own large gambling debts.
Prior to the trial, Carton had insisted that his business was legitimate, and he was himself a victim of Meli’s fraud, which hobbled his business and precipitated its collapse. But documents submitted as evidence in his one week trial showed that money went to pay personal expenses and fund casino trips.
Both prior to and during the trial, Carton claimed to have real relationships with venues and promoters, including with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Barclays Center and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island.
“As part of his ticket resale business, Mr. Carton developed substantial relationships with senior staff members at Barclays Center,” his attorney wrote in a memo to the court. “Beginning in 2015, employees of Barclays Center began presenting Mr. Carton with opportunities to buy tickets to live events at Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum for Mr. Carton to resell on the secondary ticket market.”
Testimony from BS&E executives at trial contradicted his claims, and emails entered into evidence that Carton said were from senior management at the venue were alleged to have been doctored.
According to NJ.com, Carton’s defense admitted in its closing arguments that he had lied to investors about how their money would be used – but that shouldn’t be considered a crime “as he intended to eventually refund all money to investors.”
The Post said the New York resident looked straight ahead as the verdict was read. Co-defendant Michael Wright had already pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison. Meli was sentenced in April to 78 months imprisonment after his guilty plea, along with $1.5 million in fines and restitution due to his victims.