News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Nov. 18, 2010

FIVE FORMER KU ATHLETICS EMPLOYEES INDICTED ON CHARGES OF STEALING TICKETS

TOPEKA, KAN. – Five former employees at the University of Kansas have been indicted on federal charges of conspiring to steal more than $2 million worth of tickets to KU athletic events, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

The indictment alleges tickets to Kansas basketball, football and other athletic events were stolen and sold by ticket brokers or third parties. Named in the indictment are:

Thomas Ray Blubaugh, 46, Medford, Okla., who was working as a consultant to the ticket office at KU.
Charlette Faye Blubaugh, 43, Medord, Okla., who was Associate Athletic Director in charge of the ticket office at KU. Thomas Ray Blubaugh is her husband.
Ben Kirtland, 54, Lenexa, Kan., who was Associate Athletic Director of Development and supervisor of the Williams Educational Fund. The Williams Fund is the fund-raising arm of Kansas Athletics, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that promotes university athletics. Kirtland was the head of fund raising for Kansas Athletics, Inc., and the highest ranking official working directly with the Williams Fund.
Rodney Dale Jones, 42, Lawrence, Kan., who was Assistant Athletic Director in charge of the Williams Educational Fund.
Kassie Liebsch, 28, Lawrence, Kan., who was a systems analyst working in the KU Athletics ticket office.

The indictment alleges that in 2005 Charlette Blubaugh began stealing season tickets for KU athletic events. She gave the tickets to Kirkland, Jones, Liebsch, Brendan Simmons and Jason Jeffries to sell to third parties. As a result, the conspirators made $3 million to $5 million. (Simmons and Jeffries, who have pleaded guilty to related federal offenses, are not named as defendants in this indictment).

The conspirators violated university policies limiting staff members to two complimentary season tickets to football and basketball, which could not be transferred or sold.

The indictment alleges that in order to divert tickets the conspirators:
Entered false information into a computer system designed to prevent tickets from being stolen.
Paid kickbacks to third parties not connected to the ticket office to sell tickets to individuals and through ticket brokers.
Had checks written to third parties not connected to the ticket office.
Had ticket brokers write checks that were converted to cash at the brokers’ banks.
Purchased money orders with cash in amounts less than currency reporting requirements in an effort to keep the proceeds from being traced back to them.
Concealed the receipt of their outside income on reports required by NCAA rules.

The indictment seeks a money judgment of between $3 million and $5 million, representing the value of the stolen tickets.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million each. The Internal Revenue Service investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway and Christine Kenney are prosecuting.

 

OTHER INDICTMENTS



A federal grand jury meeting in Topeka, Kan., also returned the following indictments:

Amie Elisabeth Ard, 30, Topeka, Kan., is charged with 12 counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. The crimes are alleged to have occurred from March to November 2008 in Shawnee County, Kan.

The indictment alleges that while Ard was employed by Wood Oil Company as store manager at the convenience store located on the Kansas Turnpike near Topeka she stole more than $564,000 from the company. In 2008, the company learned the store was short a large sum of money. The shortages were related to the store’s two automated teller machines and began after Ard became store manager. Ard used her key control access to the cash machines to take money from the daily receipts attributable to the cash machines. She also stole larger bills she was supposed to exchange for currency to be loaded into the cash machines. The indictment alleges she used stolen money to purchase a 2005 Chevrolet Avalanche and a 1997 Corvette.

If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,00 on each count of wire fraud and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count of money laundering. The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway are prosecuting.

Juana Lopez Garcia, 32, Dodge City, Kan., is charged with one count being an accessory to bank robbery. The crime is alleged to have occurred Oct. 21, 2010, in Ford County, Kan.

The indictment alleges she provided comfort and assistance to Angel Garcia Aguirre in order to prevent him from being arrested for bank robbery. Aguirre was indicted Nov. 9, 2010, on charges of robbing the Bank of America at 2307 Central Avenue in Dodge City.

If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The FBI, the Dodge City Police Department, and the Ford County Sheriff’s Office investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch is prosecuting.

Preston D. DeJesus, 31, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., is charged with one count of destroying more than $1,000 worth of property belonging to another person and one count of destroying less than $1,000 worth of property belonging to the United States government. The crimes are alleged to have occurred Oct. 25, 2010, on Fort Leavenworth.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 17 months in federal prison and a fine up to $100,000 on the charge of destroying more than $1,000 worth of private property and a maximum penalty of one year and a fine up to $100,000 on the charge of destroying less than $1,000 worth of government property. The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead is prosecuting.

Joseph Vincent Strempel, II, 21, who is in custody in the Marshall County Jail, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. The crime is alleged to have occurred Sept. 1, 2010, in Marshall County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation worked on the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag is prosecuting.

Heriberto Gonzalez-Garcia, 37, who is currently in custody in the Geary County Jail, is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The crime is alleged to have occurred Oct. 21, 2010, in Geary County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $4 million. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag is prosecuting.

Steven Allen Contee, 32, Topeka, Kan., and Patrick M. Tracy, 45, Topeka, Kan., are charged with unlawful possession of firearms after they had been convicted of felonies. The crime is alleged to have occurred Feb. 5, 2010, in Shawnee County, Kan.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 each. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hendershot is prosecuting.

Oscar Romero, 37, EL Paso, Texas, is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The crimes are alleged to have occurred Oct. 21, 2010, in Shawnee County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $4 million on the methamphetamine charge, and a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $2 million on the cocaine charge. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

Juan Gonzalez-Valdez, 30, Colorado Springs, Colo., is charged possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The crime is alleged to have occurred Oct. 18, 2010, in Lincoln County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $2 million on the cocaine charge. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

Hector Armando Rojas, 36, Tijuana, Mexico, is charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The crime is alleged to have occurred Oct. 7, 2010, in Coffey County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $4 million. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

Juan Roman, 33, Philadelphia, Penn., and Johnny Rodriguez, 35, Philadelphia, Penn., are charged with possession of phencyclidine (PCP) with intent to distribute. The crime is alleged to have occurred Nov. 15, 2010, in Saline County, Kan.

If convicted, they face a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $4 million. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.


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