A strip club manager was sentenced to 21 months in prison for his role in the ticket-resale Ponzi scheme with former sports-talk radio host Craig Carton.
Manhattan federal judge Colleen McMahon served the manager, Michael Wright, with his sentence last week. Wright, 42, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud. He helped Carton scam investors out of millions of dollars in a ticket resale business, which Carton used to pay personal debts. According to court evidence, Carton raised $2 million from a hedge fund, Brigade Capital, to be invested in tickets while Wright, a financial manager for the business, diverted the money to pay down his home equity line and pay Carton’s gambling debts.
During the sentencing hearing, Wright hoped for leniency, noting that he followed Carton blindly during the scheme and turned an eye to Carton’s “glamorous lifestyle” – something “for too long a time I didn’t question him” about.
“He radiated energy and drive that drew me in,” he said. “I was a bit awed and flattered. … I went into the ticket business because I believed in Craig Carton. But I allowed myself to be blinded by him.”
According to NewsDay, the courtroom was filled with Wright’s supporters, including his friends, family, and employees. McMahon listened to defense lawyer Alan Futerfas describe him as a good family man and appreciated the heartfelt letters from law enforcement and exotic dancers in favor or Wright, however, she told him that he should not minimize his role since he was “more than a getaway driver” in a heist.
“I heard you say you were blinded by Mr. Carton’s celebrity and I think to a certain extent that’s true,” she said. “But it wasn’t Mr. Carton’s celebrity that made you take Brigade’s money and pay off your mortgage.”
While Wright was originally facing 20 years in prison, he will only serve between 21 to 27 months behind bars. He is ordered to surrender on June 10.
Carton, who faces up to 45 years in prison, was found guilty for security fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud. While his sentencing was originally scheduled for February 27, it was pushed back to March 15. His attorney asked the federal judge overseeing his case to delay the sentencing until April 5 to have ample time to review a new psychological report that is “essential” to the case.