Former Associate Athletic Director Sentenced for Leading Conspiracy to Steal KU Sports Tickets
WICHITA, KAN. – A former associate athletic director who was in charge of the ticket office at the University of Kansas has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. The judge also ordered restitution of more than $2.2 million to the University of Kansas and more than $268,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Charlette Faye Blubaugh, 44, Medford, Okla., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. In her plea, she admitted she and co-defendants diverted $2 million worth of tickets to KU athletic events. Beginning in 2005, Blubaugh began to steal individual and season tickets for Kansas Athletic events and provide them to co-defendants including Brendan Simmons, Jason Jeffries, Ben Kirtland, Rodney Dale Jones and Kassie Liebsch to sell to third parties in violation of university policies. The tickets were moved in interstate commerce and marketed through individuals and ticket brokers. The tickets were advertised for sale on the Internet and sold in ways meant to hide the fact the tickets were coming from employees of the ticket office.
As part of the scheme to divert tickets, the conspirators misled the Director of Athletics to believe that a computer system was in place to prevent tickets from being stolen, converted or taken by fraud. Conspirators paid kickbacks to individuals who marketed the stolen tickets and they used various means to cover up their crimes including using third parties not connected with the ticket office to sell the tickets, having checks written to third parties, and concealing the illicit income from the NCAA.
Thomas Ray Blubaugh, 46, Medford, Okla., the husband of Charlette Blubaugh, who was sentenced to 46 months after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
Ben Kirtland, 54, Lenexa, Kan., who is set for sentencing May 12 after pleading guilty to conspiracy.
Rodney Dale Jones, 42, Lawrence, Kan., who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison.
Kassie Liebsch, 28, Lawrence, Kan., who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 37 months.
Brandon Simmons, 31, Lenexa, Kan., who pleaded guilty to a charge of concealing a felony and was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay restitution of $157,840.
Jason Jeffries, 36, Lawrence, Kan., who pleaded guilty to a charge of concealing a felony and was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay restitution of $56,000.
Grissom commended the Internal Revenue Service, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney for their work on the case.