Advertisement

Originally published April 11, 2011 at 10:40a.m., updated April 11, 2011 at 01:13p.m.

Former KU athletics consultant Tom Blubaugh sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for role in ticket scam

Former Kansas Athletics Inc. consultant Thomas Ray Blubaugh arrives at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, to plead guilty on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Blubaugh was sentenced to 46 months of prison for his role in the tickets scheme, which prosecutors say cost Kansas Athletics $2 million.

Former Kansas Athletics Inc. consultant Thomas Ray Blubaugh arrives at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Wichita Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, to plead guilty on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Blubaugh was sentenced to 46 months of prison for his role in the tickets scheme, which prosecutors say cost Kansas Athletics $2 million.

Advertisement

— Thomas Blubaugh, a former consultant to Kansas Athletics Inc., is headed to prison for his role in tickets scheme that prosecutors say cost the department at least $2 million.

Whether, or when, his wife joins him in custody is set to be determined later this week.

Blubaugh, 46, was sentenced to 46 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He had pleaded guilty to the charge in January, and is the third person to be sentenced on the charge that a Kansas University investigation determined had involved the theft and distribution for personal gain of more than 17,000 men’s basketball tickets and more than 2,000 football tickets.

“I offer no excuse for my actions, because there is none,” Blubaugh said in court Wednesday in Wichita.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown also ordered Blubaugh to pay up to $841,111 in restitution to Kansas Athletics. He and his wife also are jointly responsible for paying the IRS $268,292 for unreported taxes.

Brown sentenced Blubaugh in the same courtroom where Blubaugh’s wife, Charlette Blubaugh, is set to face sentencing on the same charge Thursday.

Charlette Blubaugh is former director of the department’s ticket office, holding that job until her resignation in early 2010. That’s when federal investigators had been checking into missing tickets, and suspected illegal sales through brokers and distribution to others.

Thomas Blubaugh, a former director of athletics ticket operations at the University of Oklahoma, was on the Kansas Athletics payroll as a consultant from August 2007 until January 2010. Prosecutors say they still aren’t sure what consulting duties he had handled, other than furthering the conspiracy.

In a filing Monday morning, prosecutors detailed the $841,111 in proceeds the Blubaughs reaped from the conspiracy:

• 2005: $35,440.

• 2006: $124,210.

• 2007: $115,085.65.

• 2008: $229,224.84.

• 2009: $337,150.80.

The Blubaughs “enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, including an expensive home in Cedar Creek (in suburban Kansas City) with pool and customized patio,” wrote Richard Hathaway, an assistant U.S. attorney, in a motion filed Monday seeking a sentencing of 57 months in prison for Charlette Blubaugh. “They purchased vacations, vacation timeshares and a motor home. And they have not provided the government with a reasonable explanation of all that happened to the money.”

Thomas Blubaugh had sought a sentence of 21 months in prison. He also has asked for a delay in the start on whatever sentence his wife might receive until after he has finished his, so she would be able care for the two children they have together, ages 6 and 5.

In court, Thomas Blubaugh apologized for the situation he has placed his children in.

“Unfortunately, my actions will leave them with an embarrassing legacy that will affect them for the rest of their lives,” he said, reading from a written statement.

Thomas Blubaugh’s sentence is equal to that imposed upon Rodney Jones, former associate athletics director for the Williams Fund. Kassie Liebsch, a former systems analyst who had taken over the tickets job upon Charlette Blubaugh’s departure — only to resign upon their indictment in November — has been sentenced to 37 months in prison.

Still awaiting sentencing next month is Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director for development. Kirtland is the Kansas Athletics official who signed off on consulting payments to Thomas Blubaugh.

The conspirators all share responsibility for a $2 million forfeiture judgment, intended to ensure that none of them retains any profits from their illegal activities.

Two other former Kansas Athletics employees — Jason Jeffries and Brandon Simmons — earlier had been granted probation after pleading guilty to their failure to notify authorities about the scam.

Authorities say the theft of tickets occurred from 2005 to 2010.

And authorities are still checking into the recent discovery of 14 boxes of tickets found in a storage unit in Lenexa that had been maintained by Thomas Blubaugh. The boxes included some tickets considered “deadwood,” because they didn’t have a market: soccer, baseball, women’s basketball and some for football and men’s basketball.

“But there were over 3,000 Orange Bowl tickets (an event that was sold out) and thousands of parking tickets (which we have to purchase from KU parking and sell to donors),” said Judy Pottorff, the department’s general counsel, as quoted in Hathaway’s motion filed Monday. “There are some tickets to some games that were sold out (KSU football games).”

Following Monday’s hearing, Hathaway declined to discuss the discovery of the boxes of tickets found in Lenexa, saying that such information would be addressed Thursday, during Charlette Blubaugh’s sentencing hearing.

Interactive Timeline

KU ticket scandal timeline

View timeline on a new page.

Comments

bangaranggerg 8 years, 7 months ago

That will show you, that if you commit financial fraud that harms the Kansas Athletic Department there will be consequences. However if you do it on a grander scale, say enough to destabilize the entire global economy and send the country into a terrible depression, you get off scot- free. Blubaugh should have been to big to fail.

gchawk 8 years, 7 months ago

"And it's fat azz by a nose", per Shawshank Redemption.

Ted Toulouse 8 years, 7 months ago

Still think Perkins was involved and benefitted from all this. A little scim off the top for turning a blind eye to the situation maybe.

thesloss 8 years, 7 months ago

+1 and pretty much the entire City of Lawrence, KU fan base, anyone with any common sense. What did it take for him to pull the wool over everyone's eyes?

Geekinout 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the difference from all these morons being caught and Lew, is that Lew new how to launder his money better and found a way to report his income to the IRS. A better criminal? I hate to say it, but the real idiot in all this is The University of Kansas for allowing it to go on for so long in the first place and then cutting, what I believe the true master mind, a huge retirement check. Come on KU! That didn't look suspicious him retiring a year early! Maybe KU just did it though to save face considering they already made a ton of money because of Lew and didn't want another black-eye.

Geekinout 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the difference from all these morons being caught and Lew, is that Lew new how to launder his money better and found a way to report his income to the IRS. A better criminal? I hate to say it, but the real idiot in all this is The University of Kansas for allowing it to go on for so long in the first place and then cutting, what I believe the true master mind, a huge retirement check. Come on KU! That didn't look suspicious him retiring a year early! Maybe KU just did it though to save face considering they already made a ton of money because of Lew and didn't want another black-eye.

Geekinout 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the difference from all these morons being caught and Lew, is that Lew new how to launder his money better and found a way to report his income to the IRS. A better criminal? I hate to say it, but the real idiot in all this is The University of Kansas for allowing it to go on for so long in the first place and then cutting, what I believe the true master mind, a huge retirement check. Come on KU! That didn't look suspicious him retiring a year early! Maybe KU just did it though to save face considering they already made a ton of money because of Lew and didn't want another black-eye.

Geekinout 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the difference from all these morons being caught and Lew, is that Lew new how to launder his money better and found a way to report his income to the IRS. A better criminal? I hate to say it, but the real idiot in all this is The University of Kansas for allowing it to go on for so long in the first place and then cutting, what I believe the true master mind, a huge retirement check. Come on KU! That didn't look suspicious him retiring a year early! Maybe KU just did it though to save face considering they already made a ton of money because of Lew and didn't want another black-eye.

scholz 8 years, 7 months ago

Think of it like this.........If Lew Perkins WAS involved. Those squeeling pigs would have ratted him out FOR SURE. They ratted out Kassie Liebsch and she was the CURRENT head of the ticket office. Nothing was ever said about her until the after the investigated everyone. Pretty sure they would have thrown Lew under the bus the first chance they got.

thesloss 8 years, 7 months ago

Or think of it like this, If Lew Perkins was not involved ... he should have had a clue a large number of his direct reports were involved.

He disregarded feedback, complaints ... etc. He had more 'red flags' waving at him than you see at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Dyrk Dugan 8 years, 7 months ago

this one is all on Lew. didn't even know he was on the payroll.....30 grand for "consulting"...and he STILL goes in with the wife on the scam?

and this is the one, that KU should make Lew pay part of the restitution. you don't think Lew could pay the $1.1 million? or how 'bout at least half? seems only fair to me.

Clarence Haynes 8 years, 7 months ago

Will be glad when sentences are completed. It seems as if ESPN et al have been reporting these decisions for months! Does not help the image.

thesloss 8 years, 7 months ago

Will he have access to a "henway' in the clink?

gchawk 8 years, 7 months ago

So this is the reason we couldn't park at our reserved parking spot. We were told, twice, that the parking lot was full in 2008 and my response was; "how could our reserved spot be taken?", for which there was no explanation. Pretty annoying when a person pays for reserved parking only to have to purchase yet another space from a private entity.

Jeff Dean 8 years, 7 months ago

3000 Orange Bowl tickets! That explains why my seats we SO bad.

Geekinout 8 years, 7 months ago

I liked how the prosecutors detailed the $841,111 showing how he got more greedy at an almost exponential rate every year. I feel bad for their children, but to ask for a delay in his wife's sentencing is ridiculous! Hopefully their kids will be brought up in a home where they are taught that stealing is not morally acceptable. Who knows, they're probably spoiled from their parents dubious behaviors by now with all that cheddar. Final Note: Congrats to Lew for scamming out when the scamming was good. Way to go University of Kansas for doing your homework and allowing this to go on for so long. Good hires HR! I honestly believe a closet full of monkeys on typewriters runs my alma mater...

midhawktx 8 years, 7 months ago

I thought the escalation of greed was very insightful. I talked to a banker about this and he said that the majority of people that get caught doing similar things at banks do the same thing. They try it at first, don't get caught, and continue to do it in larger amounts. Just an unreal scandal and poor decisions top to bottom in the atheletic office.

Matt Kenton 8 years, 7 months ago

5 and 6 year old children, prison for almost 4 years, and possibly for both parents... Wow.

Maracas 8 years, 7 months ago

Had Blubaugh and his wife knocked over a liquor store their kids would already be in state custody and they'd both be facing prison simultaneously.

KEITHMILES05 8 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like they probably lost their Cedar Creek home and all the fancy stuff. Too funny when you play with fire you get burned!

Shardwurm 8 years, 7 months ago

You all have a problem with what they did of course...but the univer$ity still sticks it to anyone who legally wants to buy tickets.

gardenjay 8 years, 7 months ago

These bohemian attitudes really solve social problems. Didn't everyone have to take Western Civ?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.