Advertisement

Advertisement

Originally published April 14, 2011 at 10:43a.m., updated April 14, 2011 at 01:07p.m.

Former KU athletics ticket official Charlette Blubaugh sentenced to 57 months for her role in cash-for-tickets scheme

Former University of Kansas athletic department consultant, Thomas Ray Blubaugh, and his wife Charlette Blubaugh, left and center, leave the U.S. Federal Courthouse, in Wichita, Kan., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, after being arraigned on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say the couple, along with others, are charged with stealing athletic tickets and scalping them for cash to ticket brokers and third parties outside the university totally $5 million.

Former University of Kansas athletic department consultant, Thomas Ray Blubaugh, and his wife Charlette Blubaugh, left and center, leave the U.S. Federal Courthouse, in Wichita, Kan., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, after being arraigned on a charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say the couple, along with others, are charged with stealing athletic tickets and scalping them for cash to ticket brokers and third parties outside the university totally $5 million.

Advertisement

— Charlette Blubaugh, a former associate athletics director at Kansas Athletics Inc., was sentenced Thursday to 57 months in prison for her role in a ticket-theft scheme and conspiracy that prosecutors say cost the department at least $2 million.

Blubaugh, who had pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, also must spend three years on supervised release once she’s released from custody, plus be responsible for paying a total of $2.56 million in restitution to the department and the IRS.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown also denied Blubaugh’s request to delay her prison term, quashing her hopes that she would care for her two young children — ages 5 and 6 — while husband Thomas Blubaugh serves a 46-month prison term for his role in the tickets scam.

“I am truly sorry for the pain that I have caused, and the disappointment I have caused my family,” Charlette Blubaugh said.

Brown imposed the sentence as federal agents and others looked on in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

“We’re all sorry this occurred,” Brown said. “But this did occur.”

Charlette Blubaugh, the former associate athletics director for ticket operations at Kansas Athletics, was a central figure in a scam that involved more than 17,000 basketball tickets and more than 2,000 football tickets from 2005 to 2010.

She, her husband and others took tickets and then sold them through brokers and others for their own personal gain.

“She was the gatekeeper for all stolen tickets,” prosecutors said, in their sentencing memo.

She also was in charge of the computer system that was supposed to track tickets and presumably prevent thefts. Prosecutors noted that in December 2009, Lew Perkins, then athletics director, had been meeting with federal investigators regarding nearly 100 ticket stubs — all but one with consecutive numbers — that had been pulled out of a trash can in the Kansas City area as part of their ticket investigation.

When Perkins called Blubaugh into the interview, prosecutors said, she lied to investigators by advising them that it would be impossible for anyone to have more than 40 tickets to any KU basketball game. She also told the agents that the computer program tracked destinations of tickets to prevent such problems.

“She provided this information full well knowing that she had manipulated the system to allow for the large scale illegal issuance of tickets so that the issuance would appear to be in the regular course of business,” prosecutors said, in their sentencing memo.

Blubaugh left the department in February 2010, citing family reasons. But because of her experience with the computer software, she stayed with the department in a consulting capacity to help handle “the requests of federal authorities” regarding tickets, according to KU’s investigation. She even worked on spreadsheets provided by the IRS.

Soon, the scam would be exposed. KU released its investigation in May, and Charlette Blubaugh quickly resigned from her job working for the athletics director at the University of Central Oklahoma.

KU’s investigation concluded that she had been “directly responsible for creating the climate of an ice cream store where the employees feel free to sample the wares without paying for them.” She and others were indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2010.

On Thursday, Judge Brown concluded that Charlette Blubaugh’s involvement had been key, even as she had argued that thefts had been ongoing upon her arrival at KU in 2004 and that auditors had failed to raise concerns, leading her to start stealing tickets herself in 2006.

“Regardless of whose idea it was or how it started … her conduct was essential for the conduct to continue for many years,” Brown said.

In fact, prosecutors said, Blubaugh and her husband already had earned $35,440 from illegal ticket sales in 2005 — the beginning of an overall take of $841,111 over five years, all from running tickets through a single broker in Oklahoma.

Earlier this week, prosecutors noted that investigators recently discovered 14 boxes of tickets and parking passes — including 3,000 tickets for the 2008 Orange Bowl — in a storage unit in Lenexa, likely pushing KU’s financial losses beyond what had previously been calculated.

“Defendant and her husband enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, including an expensive home in Cedar Creek with pool and customized patio,” prosecutors said in their memo. “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.”

On Thursday, Brown ordered Charlette Blubaugh to be responsible for $2.56 million in restitution. Of that total, nearly $2.3 million must go to Kansas Athletics — of which nearly $1.2 million she shares responsibility for paying along with four other former Kansas Athletics employees convicted of conspiracy:

The total for Kansas Athletics also includes more than $100,000 in restitution that she shares responsibility for paying along with Brandon Simmons, a former employee who previously admitted taking and selling tickets but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, failing to notify authorities about the scam; and $56,000 that she shares responsibility for paying along with Jason Jeffries, another former coworker who had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.

Both Jeffries and Simmons are on probation.

Charlette Blubaugh’s attorneys initially had sought probation for their client, arguing that she had lacked a previous criminal record, had cooperated with authorities and still had parental duties.

“She has a good moral compass that simply failed her in a big way,” her attorneys said, in their sentencing memo.

Interactive Timeline

KU ticket scandal timeline

View timeline on a new page.

Comments

thesloss 3 years, 6 months ago

Blubaugh and others who were direct reports of Lew Perkins stole more than tickets and money from KUA ... they stole intangibles ... Jayhawk Pride, long standing tradition of excellence & integrity ... the sense of a fair exchange between monies donated to the university (points system) and a fair seat selection in return. What has been eroded here is the confidence we used to have in the University. Now, even the chancellor, the internal review committee, and other's handling of Lew Perkins and his direct report's ticket scandal leaves us feeling little to no confidence in them and the processes in place.

Jeremy Bolinger 3 years, 6 months ago

Stole Jayhawk pride? They didnt steal any of my pride. It takes more than a few boneheads to steal my pride as student and fan of such a wonderful university. Fact of the matter is they are embarrassments to the community and, now convicted felons. But, I still have confidence in my university to be better because of this. Did Lew Perkins know or have something to do with this? Perhaps...........Guess we will never know.

HogJiver 3 years, 6 months ago

Well said "Thesloss", now we need to get rid of the "point system" .

Jeremy Bolinger 3 years, 6 months ago

Well said? The pussification of America continues.

SaulGood 3 years, 6 months ago

“She has a good moral compass that simply failed her in a big way."

I have a really good car that simply has failing brakes. Do I still have a good car?

Leave it to lawyers to issue a blatant contradiction-in-terms.

kureader 3 years, 6 months ago

No ... a really good car, up on blocks with no engine, wheels, seats or fenders.

No ... not a blatant contradiction-in-terms ... just plain stupid ... attorneys you hope get hired by the other side.

madamhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

That's one way to downgrade from ham to bologna!

hawksquawk 3 years, 6 months ago

"I believe that in all men's lives at certain periods, and in many men's lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.... Of all the passions the passion for the Inner Ring is most skilful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things." "To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colors.... Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink or a cup of coffee, disguised as a triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still--just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naive or a prig--the hint will come. It will be the hint of something, which is not quite in accordance with the technical rules of fair play, something that the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand. Something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about, but something, says your new friend, which "we"-- and at the word "we" you try not to blush for mere pleasure--something "we always do." And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man's face--that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face--turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude: it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel."

— C. S. Lewis. The Inner Ring (1944)

100 3 years, 6 months ago

Wow Hawksquat....

For a minute I swore I was reading the text from a John Calipari press conference....

dynamitehawk 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm waiting for the movie, "Charletto's Way", to come out in 7 or so years. I don't know who would be the best Charletto though... Roseanne Barr, Kathy Bates, or Joe Pesci?

thesloss 3 years, 6 months ago

Um, also a children's book ... Charlette's Web.

Qoute from Charlotte's Web: [Wilbur is eyeing Charlotte's egg sack] Charlotte: I'm versatile. Wilbur: Does versatile mean full of eggs? Charlotte: [chuckling] Certainly not. Versatile means I can change with ease from one thing to another.

Scott Oswalt 3 years, 6 months ago

Funny stuff!

Pow right in her frumpy kisser!

jayhawkinATL 3 years, 6 months ago

Message received: Don't mess with the feds!!!!!

blindrabbit 3 years, 6 months ago

Just let her work in the prison kitchen!

SELF_RESPECT 3 years, 6 months ago

what puffalumps. Charlette liked to say: "The cream will rise to the top"! Well crap sinks to the bottom of the tank!

Lacy Mohler 3 years, 6 months ago

Are the kids adopted? I'm having a hard time picturing those two making a baby.

Sorry there are children involved.

jaychalk 3 years, 6 months ago

The saga is almost over. One sentencing to go. But, will we ever know the whole story?

Eric TheCapn 3 years, 6 months ago

"Totally $5 million!" Check your cutline, friends.

njtl 3 years, 6 months ago

Is it just me or does ol' Tom Blubaugh look a little like Frank Caliendo?

KGphoto 3 years, 6 months ago

A little? They were separated at birth! With a scalpel.

He IS, Caliendo doing George W.

areyouserious 3 years, 6 months ago

+1........all the people who got cheated by the ticket scandal (in other words had worse seats) should get part of the restitution. Let's be honest, they stole from the donors and fans. KU may or may not be made whole once these losers pay it back in 40 yrs, however the donors get hosed.

Great work by the investigators and the feds!!!!!

I toured Leavenworth Federal Pen. recently, its no cakewalk in there (unless ur mike vick).....Somebody will be eating Rodney's cornbread...........

Geekinout 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm just happy how much of an improvement my seats have been this past year because they caught these criminals. Showed me first hand how much they really were corrupting the point system. Why the feds aren't going after the ticket brokers is beyond me too?

kureader 3 years, 6 months ago

I noticed the improvement as well.

I get the impression that the organized ticket brokers reported the income. I'm not sure that what they did was illegal. You still ask a good question. There surely were others who brokered tickets to end users who were not really in the ticket business. It's not like the 7 felons don't know who ALL the brokers are. You'd think there would have been other "shoes to drop" by now.

53jayhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

If the brokers paid over $600 to an individual in a given year, then wouldn't a 1099 need to be filed with the IRS? I still think the brokers are under investigation and we are not yet through hearing about this.

KGphoto 3 years, 6 months ago

"Earlier this week, prosecutors noted that investigators recently discovered 14 boxes of tickets and parking passes — including 3,000 tickets for the 2008 Orange Bowl — in a storage unit in Lenexa, likely pushing KU’s financial losses beyond what had previously been calculated"

Can we have first crack at those Orange Bowl tickets? That's gotta be some valuable evidence there. I'd love a perfect unused Orange Bowl ticket framed on my wall. Especially if it was one involved in the biggest scandal in KU history.

The line forms here, at usernames beginning with K.

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 6 months ago

Ha! Buy me one too. I'll pay you back (in exercise equipment)

kureader 3 years, 6 months ago

Not a bad idea.

I'm OK with that. I'll be right behind you in line.

I'm guessing the unused tickets were better seats than the ones KU sold me. I sold my tickets halfway up in the corner and paid about the same amount for new ones on EBAY ... 45 YL 20 rows from the field. There were empty seats everywhere!

Dan Cook 3 years, 6 months ago

Now I know why I was sitting upstairs at the Orange Bowl!

Topcitykid10 3 years, 6 months ago

I have my Orange Bowl ticket stub in a frame

Commenting has been disabled for this item.