Extensive gambling debts drove WFAN sports talk radio personality Craig Carton – half of the popular “Boomer & Carton” program with former NFL QB Boomer Esiason – into a ticketing Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of millions, according to multiple reports.
Deadspin, citing documents filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the case that was opened after Carton’s arrest in New York on Monday morning, report that he had an outstanding debt of $2.5 million to a casino. Despite his sizeable salary from the popular radio show, reported to be $250,000 per year by the Washington Post, Carton sought to pay down his debts through crime, allegedly.
The SEC is alleging that he and partners operated a scam where investors thought they were buying into a ticket resale operation, with money instead being paid to Carton’s creditors and previous investors. Partners in the scheme included Joe Meli, a onetime executive with DTI Management arrested earlier this year on similar charges.
Per the SEC:
Carton provided to one investor fictitious agreements for entities controlled by Meli or Carton to purchase at face value, directly from a concert promoter or venue, millions of dollars’ worth of tickets to upcoming concerts by the artists Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Roger Waters, Metallica, and Barbra Streisand. In reality, no such agreements with the concert promoter or venue existed, and the signatures for the concert promoter or venue were forged. Carton provided to another investor documents referencing a purported agreement by an entity controlled by Meli to purchase millions of dollars’ worth of Adele concert tickets at face value, directly from Adele’s management company. Again, there was no such agreement with Adele’s management company.
The FBI arrested Carton on Wednesday morning and charged him with “securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.”
The full complaint by the SEC is available at Scribd.com. Meli is named as co-defendant in the SEC’s suit, as are Advance Entertainment, LLC, Advancem LTD., Misoluki, Inc., Misoluki, LLC, Ticket Jones, LLC, and Tier One Tickets, LLC.
WFAN officially suspended Carton indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation, while Esiason expressed disbelief that his partner was involved in such an operation.
“Maybe our point guard’s not here, but we’re going to continue to do it and I’m going to bring my friends in here until we find a permanent replacement, if in fact that’s where this is going to take us,” Esiason said. “But I just want people to know out there, that I love my partner for 10 years. I still love my partner. I love his family. I love his kids. And I am praying every single day, you know, that he lands on his feet, that they land on their feet. And there’s nothing worse than having a family go through what they have to go through now.”
The pair have worked together on the show since 2007.
Thus far, the hedge fund Brigade Capital Management is by far the most substantially affected victim. According to Sports Illustrated, the firm – named “Management Firm of the Year” earlier this year by Absolute Return, was scammed out of $4.6 million by Carton and his associates. Reports on the total size of the scheme have varied, but $5.6 million is the highest number reported as of Friday afternoon.