Morgenthau, Spitzer Announce Ticket Scalping Indictments

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau and New York State Attorney General Spitzer announced today the unsealing of three indictments charging sixteen people for their participation in the organized scalping of tickets to Yankees and Mets games.

Eight of those charged are ticket agents, or former ticket agents, for the New York Yankees; one is a ticket agent for the New York Mets. The arrest began at Yankee Stadium yesterday; 10 of defendants, including four Yankee game ticket agents, were arrested before and during yesterday's home game. Others were arrested at their homes yesterday an one defendant, a Met ticket agent, was arrested this morning at Shea Stadium.

The investigation disclosed a number of schemes used to divert tickets from the Yankees' ticket office to brokers and scalpers who then sold the tickets to ordinary fans at substantially inflated prices. In addition, one of the defendants participated in the diversion of Met's tickets. Most commonly, scalpers and brokers received tickets from Yankee ticket agents, working in kiosks around the stadium, in exchange for the face value of the tickets plus a monetary bribe. In another scheme, corrupt Yankee ticket agents assisted brokers in obtaining multiple season or partial-season ticket plans that are not for sale to brokers and are restricted to one per customer. In yet another scheme, corrupt ticket agents assisted brokers in obtaining group-sales purchases that are available to brokers; the agents allowed the brokers to use multiple identities to make it appear that individuals were making the group purchases even though the agents knew that was not the case.

"As a result of these scams," Mr. Morgenthau said, "ordinary fans showing up at the stadium had virtually no chance to obtain the best tickets available to Yankee games, since corrupt ticket agents were diverting them to scalpers."

"The corrupt ticket agents and brokers were not only profiting at the expense of fans by charging them inflated prices for the diverted tickets, but at the expense of the Yankees, as well. Part of the economic loss to the Yankees is in the form of lost royalties from TicketMaster, which has an exclusive contract to sell Yankee tickets. Thus, the Yankees would have collected more royalties if more tickets had been available for sale, instead of being diverted to brokers and scalpers."

Attorney General Spitzer said, "The unholy, illegal alliance between box office workers and ticket brokers conspires to shut out real fans from being able to get a ticket to a playoff game, big concert or hot Broadway show. It doesn't matter how long fans wait on line or how many times they call. Thanks to bribery at the box office, the tickets are gone even before they go on sale. This case should send a clear warning to box office workers and ticket brokers everywhere-those of us in law enforcement are going after box office bribery wherever we find it."

Last year, Attorney General Spitzer released a 60 page report entitled " Why Can't I Get Tickets?" which looked into the widespread problems of the ticket selling industry, including box office bribery.

The investigation began with a single complaint by a victimized fan. The fan had purchased a ticket because he had been approached by a "scalper" who offered a good seat even before the fan reached the kiosk. That "scalper" turned out to be Yankee ticket agent HIRSCH. After the game, the fan went to the Advance Ticket Window to purchase tickets for subsequent games, and was surprised to find that the ticket agent behind the window was the same "scalper" who had sold him the tickets to that night's game. As a result of that victim's complaint, the District Attorney's Office commenced its investigation.

During the course of the investigation being conducted by the D.A.'s Office, the Attorney General's Office also began its own investigation into ticket scalping based on complaints it had received. As a result, a joint investigation was conducted by both offices, with today's indictments the result.