Former U.S. Golf Association Employee Charged With Embezzling Over $3 Million in U.S. Open Tickets Over Seven Years
The defendant re-sold the stolen tickets to brokers and pocketed over $1 Million
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Robert Fryer, 39, of Perkasie, PA, was charged by Information with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, and 10 counts of wire fraud related to a scheme to embezzle and pocket fraudulent proceeds from the unauthorized sale of United States Open Championship (“U.S. Open”) tickets, one of four major championships for golf.
The filed Information alleges that the defendant was employed by the United States Golf Association (“USGA”) in its Admissions Office. Beginning in advance of the 2013 U.S. Open held at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA, and continuing through the 2019 U.S. Open held at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, CA, Fryer abused his position in the USGA Admissions Office in order to steal more than 23,000 U.S. Open admission tickets, all without the knowledge and consent of the USGA. The defendant then sold those stolen tickets to third-party ticket brokers in return for payments totaling more than $1 million, which was paid to Fryer mostly in the form of cash and PayPal transfers. According to the Information, the face value of the tickets that the defendant stole was more the $3 million.
The Information further alleges that the ticket brokers to whom Fryer sold the tickets bought them in bulk to then turn around and resell them to their customers. In fact, the Information alleges that the USGA had a strict 20-ticket cap on the number of tickets that it would sell to any one person, but these ticket brokers were able to acquire thousands of tickets to each U.S. Open by buying stolen tickets from Fryer.
According to the Information, Fryer delivered the stolen U.S. Open tickets to the ticket brokers in a variety of ways: sometimes in person, and sometimes by sending them via Federal Express or UPS, either to the ticket brokers themselves or directly to the customers of the ticket brokers. The Information alleges that one of the ticket brokers regularly emailed the defendant prepaid UPS shipping labels that he then used to send the tickets to that broker and that broker’s customers.
“The defendant allegedly stole revenue from a legitimate business that pays taxes, employs many, supports a non-profit organization, and brings excitement and income to our district with U.S. Open events at courses like the Merion Golf Club,” said Acting U. S. Attorney Williams. “Criminals that conduct ticket schemes like this prey on the excitement surrounding big events; fans should remember that any item with a low price that seems ‘too good to be true’ should be cause for caution and concern.”
“Robert Fryer allegedly engaged in a years-long scheme to steal and sell thousands of U.S. Open tickets,” said Bradley S. Benavides, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Fraud is simply not the answer, if you feel your paycheck isn’t up to par. The FBI takes seriously allegations of embezzlement and fraud and will investigate anyone engaged in this sort of criminal behavior.”
Fryer faces a maximum sentence 300 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $3,750,000 fine, and a $1,500 special assessment. In addition, Fryer will be required to pay restitution to the USGA and forfeit the proceeds he obtained as a result of his fraud.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe. Investigators appreciate the cooperation of the USGA in connection with this investigation.
An Information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.