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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Manhattan Man Sentenced For Broadway Ticket Investment Scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSEPH MELI was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 78 months in prison by the Honorable Kimba M. Wood.  Between 2015 and 2017, MELI solicited approximately $100 million in investments from 130 investors through false representations that MELI would use investor funds to purchase tickets to various live events for resale at a profit on the secondary market.  MELI pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses on October 31, 2017.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Joseph Meli directed his own version of a Broadway production, where the lead character deceives investors into giving him money that he pockets and spends on himself, or uses to pay off other investors.  Today, however, Meli’s Ponzi scheme is over, and he will serve prison time for his crimes.”

According to allegations in the superseding Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, previous court filings, and statements made in public court proceedings:           

From 2015 through January 2017, MELI conducted a scheme to defraud more than 130 investors who invested a total of more than approximately $100 million through false representations that MELI would use investor funds to purchase tickets to various live events for resale at a profit on the secondary market.  In fact, MELI utilized a substantial portion of the investor funds he obtained for his personal expenses – including payments for a $3 million house in East Hampton, New York, a 2017 Porsche convertible, and expensive watches and jewelry – and to make payments, in a Ponzi-like manner, to previous investors in MELI’s ticket fraud scheme and in an unrelated hedge fund.

In furtherance of the fraudulent scheme, MELI falsely represented to investors that he had entered into written agreements with production companies for popular Broadway shows and with management companies for popular singers and music bands (together, the “Production and Management Companies”) to purchase large blocks of tickets to the shows and performances.  As part of this deception, MELI provided investors with falsified documents purporting to reflect agreements between MELI’s company, Advance Entertainment, LLC, and the Production and Management Companies.  In truth and in fact, MELI had not entered into such agreements and did not have any contractual rights to purchase such tickets from the Production and Management Companies.    

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In addition to his prison sentence, MELI, 43, of New York, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release; ordered to forfeit $104,765,565, representing the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of his fraudulent scheme; and ordered to pay restitution.

Mr. Berman praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elisha J. Kobre and Brendan F. Quigley are in charge of the prosecution.  

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
18-105
Updated April 3, 2018