Super Bowl, All-Star and NCAA Championship Counterfeit Ticket Producer Sentenced to 4+ Years in Prison
PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Eugene Smith, 45, of Lithonia, GA was sentenced today to 51 months imprisonment after being convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, and trafficking in counterfeit goods, arising from Smith’s leadership role in the production and sale of counterfeit tickets to sporting events, including the National Football League’s Super Bowl LI (51) in Houston (between the Patriots and the Falcons) and Super Bowl LII (52) in Minneapolis (between the Eagles and the Patriots), a National Basketball Association All-Star game, National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship football and basketball games, and other sporting events and concerts. The counterfeit tickets bore the authentic trademarks of the respective organization or agency that was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Smith sold the counterfeit tickets at the various venues and also distributed the counterfeit tickets to other sellers nationwide for resale to victims.
Smith targeted events and victims based on profitability – the bigger the event, the bigger the payoff. The scheme involved several steps and multiple players: after determining which events would draw the most profit, Smith provided a real ticket to the event to his printer for use in the production of multiple tickets for the event. Smith would then travel to venues to sell the counterfeit tickets or he provided the counterfeit tickets to other sellers to resell to unwitting fans. This scheme involved sophisticated printing that mimicked the authentic tickets’ markings and hologram.
At Smith’s sentencing hearing, Eric Ferguson, who was also charged with the same offenses, testified that he was recruited by Smith to produce the counterfeit tickets for the sporting events and concerts. The government presented evidence that the face value of the counterfeit tickets printed by Ferguson was at least $170,000, but the government estimated that the actual resale value of the tickets, particularly the Super Bowl tickets, far exceeded their face value.
“This case isn’t just about taking advantage of sports fans’ willingness to spend their hard-earned dollars to enjoy a game; this is about ensuring that consumers of all types can trust that when they spend their money, they are getting the authentic product for which they paid,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Smith is nothing more than a con-artist and thief, and I’m grateful that the judge saw it that way and gave him a sentence that ensures justice for his victims.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joan E. Burnes and Anita Eve.