News and Press Releases

Former Associate Athletic Director Pleads Guilty To Stealing, Selling KU Sports Tickets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Feb 24, 2011

WICHITA, KAN. – The former associate athletic director in charge of the fund-raising arm of the athletics program at the University of Kansas pleaded guilty today to conspiring to steal and sell tickets to sporting events, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Ben Kirtland, 54, Lawrence, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. In his plea, Kirtland admitted that he sold tickets to university athletic events and shared the proceeds with a co-defendant in the case. He said he did not know the exact value of the tickets he sold but estimated it to be more than $120,000. Kirtland admitted he knew he was committing fraud because he was not legally authorized to sell the tickets.

“During this time period I was aware that there was a lucrative market for KU tickets, and that these tickets were often sold by ticket brokers who advertised and sold tickets online,” Kirtland said in his petition to plead guilty. He did not enter a plea agreement.

He also admitted he received cash and checks for tickets. H converted checks to money orders to avoid detection and he did not claim the proceeds on his income tax returns or reports he filed annually with Kansas Athletics, Inc.

In his petition, Kirtland said he agrees to a $ 2 million monetary forfeiture judgment for which he and the other defendants will be jointly and severally liable.

Kirtland is set for sentencing May 12.

Co-defendants in the case include:
Thomas Ray Blubaugh, 46, Medford, Okla., the husband of Charlette Blubaugh, who is set for sentencing April 14 after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
Charlette Fay Blubaugh, who is set for sentencing April 14 after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
Kassie Liebsch, 28, Lawrence, Kan., who is set for sentencing March 30 after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
Rodney Dale Jones, 42, Lawrence, Kan., who is set for sentencing March 31 after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
Brandon Simmons, 30, Lawrence, Kan., who is set for sentencing March 7 after pleading guilty to a charge of concealing a felony.
Jason Jeffries, 36, Lawrence, Kan., who is set for sentencing March 7 after pleading guilty to a charge of concealing a felony.

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.


 

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