Former WFAN sports talk show personality Craig Carton was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison on Friday for his role in a ticketing Ponzi scheme. Carton, who served as the co-host of the popular “Boomer and Carton” show alongside former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, was found guilty of charges including securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud, in November.
The judge in the case, Colleen McMahon, admitted she had been a listener during his radio career, greeting the disgraced host by saying “Good afternoon Mr. Carton. Colleen from New York. First time, long time,” according to Lohud.com’s coverage of the sentencing.
Carton’s sentence was half of the seven years prosecutors had asked for. The 50-year-old had requested clemency after the verdict by explaining that some of the issues that led him to the fraud – particularly a serious gambling problem – stemmed from sexual abuse he suffered when he was 11 years old.
McMahon likened Carton’s crimes to those of Bernard Madoff, currently serving a 150-year prison sentence over a scheme that defrauded some $20 billion in money from investors. His explanation that he never meant to lose investors’ money received limited sympathy from the Manhattan judge. “The money always runs out at some point and only then do you realize the road to your personal hell was truly paved with your good intentions.”
In addition to the jail time, Carton was ordered to pay $4.8 million in restitution and to forfeit $4.2 million. He must also perform 150 hours of community service.
Carton’s downfall began in the fall of 2017, when he was arrested and charged in the fraud that reportedly hit victims for a total of nearly $7 million. He was soon dumped from the radio show, despite his attempts at pinning the crime on co-defendant Joe Meli, who was already facing charges for a Ponzi scheme of his own at the time of Carton’s arrest – charges Meli later pled guilty to.
During the trial, his attorneys tried to prove that there were legitimate deals in place for the purchase of tickets, attempting to subpoena documents from New York’s Barclay’s Center and bring executives to the stand – but all his tactics failed to sway the jury, which needed less than a day of deliberation before issuing its verdict.
In theory, Carton could find his way back to the airwaves once he has served his time. He co-hosted the popular WFAN show with Esiason for a decade prior to his arrest, and had a long career in the business before that break. But McMahon pointed out that he should be wary of a return to his former line of work in light of his admitted gambling addiction, given the fact that many of the advertisers on his former program are legal gambling operations. “That troubles me,” she told him in court.