Kansas ticket probe accuses ex-employees of stealing up to $3 million in tickets
By Peter Rugg
on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 3:14 PM
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And you thought Samantha Ryan got a good deal on tickets.
An independent investigation into the University of Kansas' Athletics Department and fundraising branch has revealed that five former athletics employees and a consultant sold or used 17,609 men's basketball tickets and 2,181 football tickets (as well as parking passes and club passes at Arrowhead) for personal gain.
Some of the tickets were allegedly funneled to ticket brokers from 2005 to 2010. The face value of the lost tickets is estimated to be at least $1.03
million, but because those involved covered their tracks well -- and
because independent investigators don't have subpoena power to dig
deeper -- accountants believe the losses could be as high as $3 million. The university is promising tighter security of its ticket office.
According to the report, the six people accused in the scam are:
Charlette Blubaugh, former associate athletics director of ticket operations
Tom Blubaugh, Charlette's husband, and formerly a contracted consultant
Rodney Jones, former assistant athletics director for the Williams Educational Fund
Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director of development
Brandon Simmons, former assistant athletics director of sales and marketing
Jason Jeffries, former assistant director of ticket operations
KU athletic director Lew Perkins said he was tipped off in December 2009 by the feds to the suspected wrongdoing. Testimony in another case had implicated Jones as selling KU tickets to brokers.
Wichita law firm Foulston Siefkin and national accounting firm BKD headed the investigation.
To keep this from happening again, KU plans to lockdown ticket sales with immediate changes like adding a dual-key system for access to ticket inventory; a tracking system for complimentary tickets to record who requested the tickets and for whom; and a monthly ticket accountability report. KU will also hire a full-time forensic auditor and start a hotline for whistle blowers.
The six co-conspirators could still face fraud charges, as KU has already turned the report over to the U.S. attorney's office, the Kansas attorney general and the Douglas County district attorney.