Former Associate Athletic Director
Sentenced to 57 Months in KU Ticket Fraud Case
WICHITA, KAN. – The former associate athletic director in charge of the fund-raising arm of the athletics program at the University of Kansas was sentenced today to 57 months for 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 he sold tickets to university athletic events and knew that a co-defendant was selling tickets, too.
During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Wesley E. Brown said Kirtland received more than $300,000 from the crimes. In his plea, Kirtland admitted he knew he was committing fraud because he was not legally authorized to sell the tickets. He admitted he received cash and checks for tickets. He 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.
“These thefts deprived the university and its students of ticket revenues that otherwise would have gone to scholarships, housing and other benefits for the student body of KU,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “We have pursued all credible leads and we believe all those who committed crimes in this case have been convicted. It is my sincere hope the university is now in a position to put this matter behind it and continue to flourish as an institution of higher learning.”
Co-defendants in the case include:
Charlette Fay Blubaugh, Medford, Okla., who was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
Thomas Ray Blubaugh, Medford, Okla., the husband of Charlette Blubaugh, who was sentenced to 46 months after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
Rodney Dale Jones, Lawrence, Kan., who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison.
Kassie Liebsch, Lawrence, Kan., who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 37 months.
Brandon Simmons, 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, 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.