ATLANTA, GEORGIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced six separate indictments charging 13 individuals with a multitude of crimes, including conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, trafficking in counterfeit goods, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aiding and abetting. U.S. Attorney McSwain announced the charges at the NFL’s annual anti-counterfeit merchandise press conference event held in connection with Super Bowl LIII.
The indictments filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and announced today all relate to the production, distribution, and sale of counterfeit tickets to sporting and concert events. This criminal behavior spanned several states and targeted multiple marquee sporting events, including Super Bowl LI, in Houston, Texas, and Super Bowl LII, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The details of each indictment, including the individuals charged and the sporting events that were targeted, are described more fully below. The individual defendants face a range of penalties, largely depending on the amount of financial loss attributable to each.
Case No. 2:18-cr-00306 (RBS) (Smith) and Case No. 2:18-cr-00596 (RBS) (Ferguson)
Eugene Smith, 45, of Lithonia, Georgia, and Eric Ferguson, 50, of Riverdale, Georgia, were both charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud; conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods; and trafficking in counterfeit goods. The indictments allege that Smith purchased real tickets to sporting events and concerts, provided them to his associate, Ferguson, who then printed counterfeit tickets for resale. The indictments further allege that the counterfeit tickets were distributed to a network of individuals who would advertise and sell the counterfeit tickets to unsuspecting fans. The indictments allege that from December 2016 to April 2018, the defendants conspired to traffic in counterfeit tickets for various sporting events, including Super Bowl LI; Super Bowl LII; a College Football Playoff game played in Tampa, Florida; and the Army-Navy Game played in Philadelphia.
Smith has pleaded guilty to all counts in the indictment and awaits sentencing. Ferguson has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial, currently scheduled for February 11, 2019.
Case No. 2:19-cr-00053 (RBS) (Williams et al.)
Sean Williams, 48, Damon Daniels, 48, Rahiem Watts, 30, Jermaine Jones, 41, all of New York, New York, and Rakee Russ, 40, of Philadelphia, are charged in a single indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud; conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods; and trafficking in counterfeit goods. The indictment alleges a similar pattern of behavior: defendants Daniels and Watts created counterfeit tickets to various sporting events and worked with others, including their indicted co-defendants, to advertise and sell the tickets to unsuspecting victims. It further alleges that that defendants conspired together to produce and sell counterfeit tickets to several sporting and concert events, including Super Bowl LI; an NCAA men’s college basketball game (Villanova University–University of Virginia) played in Philadelphia; an ACC men’s basketball tournament game played in New York City; and a FIFA World Cup qualifier soccer match between the United States and Costa Rica, played in Philadelphia.
Case No. 2:19-cr-0054 (RBS) (Warren and Higginbottom)
Khiale Warren, 52, and Rodney Higginbottom, 51, both of Philadelphia, are charged in a single indictment with trafficking in counterfeit tickets and wire fraud. The indictment alleges that these defendants advertised through a third-party website and sold counterfeit tickets to several events, including the 1916-2016 Copa America Centenario soccer game played in Philadelphia; a Philadelphia Eagles–Minnesota Vikings NFL football game played in Philadelphia; an NCAA Football National Championship game played in Atlanta, Georgia; and a Phish concert in Philadelphia, in June 2018.
Case No. 2:19-cr-0055 (RBS) (Tucker et al.)
Mustafa Tucker, 36, Malik Brown, 38, Kevin Sadat, 41, all of Philadelphia, are charged in a single indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud; conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods; and trafficking in counterfeit goods. This indictment alleges that the defendants obtained copies of Ferguson-printed counterfeit tickets from Smith, advertised counterfeit tickets online, and sold tickets to unsuspecting victims. The indictment alleges the defendants conspired with Smith, Ferguson, and others to traffic in counterfeit tickets to Super Bowl LI and the NBA All-Star Game played in New Orleans, Louisiana. It further alleges that Brown trafficked in counterfeit goods by selling tickets to the following events: a Phish concert held in Philadelphia in June 2018, the 1916-2016 Copa America Centenario soccer game played in Philadelphia, and a Philadelphia Eagles-Atlanta Falcons game in Philadelphia, on September 8, 2018.
Case No. 2:19-cr-0056 (RBS) (Dunmore)
Edward Dunmore, 61, of Philadelphia, was charged with two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods. The indictment alleges that on two occasions, Dunmore sold tickets to a Phish concert in Philadelphia, in June 2018.
“Criminal counterfeiting and piracy are serious crimes,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “When fans spend their hard-earned money on tickets and merchandise, they deserve the real deal. These defendants repeatedly targeted events based on profitability and perpetrated a fraud on unsuspecting fans. These indictments send a clear message that phony ticket sales are a federal case – one that we will pursue to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This case grew out of the public safety partnership between FBI Philadelphia's special events program, the NFL, and the Philadelphia Eagles,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “But as the scope of the investigation expanded nationwide, it truly became a collaboration, and for that I'd like to thank all of our law enforcement partners. There were no less than 30 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and 23 FBI field offices that directly contributed on this case, allowing us to achieve our ultimate goal of protecting the ticket-buying public.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Philadelphia Police Department, New York Police Department, with assistance from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the New York District Attorney’s Office, and multiple local law enforcement authorities, including the Duluth, Georgia Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joan Burnes and Anita Eve.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.