Originally published August 10, 2011 at 02:44p.m., updated August 10, 2011 at 04:22p.m.

Feds sue former KU athletics official Ben Kirtland and his ex-wife


— Federal prosecutors on Wednesday sued the highest-ranking official caught in a ticket scalping scandal at the University of Kansas and his ex-wife, alleging the property settlement in their divorce defrauded the United States.

The lawsuit filed by the U.S. attorney’s office against Ben Kirtland, the former associate athletic director in charge of development, and his ex-wife, Mary Jean Kirtland, is the latest legal maneuver as the government pursues assets from the conspirators who stole more than $2 million in athletics tickets.

The lawsuit alleges Ben Kirtland transferred a house in Lenexa and other property to Mary Jean Kirtland during their divorce, intending to defraud the United States. The lawsuit seeks to void those transfers, which it contends are valued at more than $400,000.

Prosecutors argued in their lawsuit against the Kirtlands that the property settlement agreement in their divorce case was filed in Johnson County District Court only 10 days before Ben Kirtland executed a sentencing agreement in his criminal case.

Mary Jean Kirtland, who now lives in Cary, N.C., did not immediately return a call for comment over the civil case filed against her.

But in a motion also filed Wednesday in the separate criminal case against her ex-husband, her attorney contended Mary Jean Kirtland did not engage in a “fraudulent transfer of property.”

Mary Jean Kirtland wrote in an affidavit filed last month that she was “devastated” when she learned in April 2010 that her husband was resigning from the university and was implicated in a conspiracy. She contended she had no prior knowledge of any wrongdoing by her husband and is “a totally innocent party” in the proceedings.

That affidavit was filed in support of her request in her husband’s separate criminal case to get the judge to lift a restraining order prohibiting her from selling or transferring any of the disputed real estate property. That request is pending.

In all, seven people were snared in the investigation into the unlawful sale of football and basketball season tickets by key athletics department officials to ticket brokers and others in which the employees pocketed the money.

Ben Kirtland and four others were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States through wire fraud, tax obstruction and interstate transportation of stolen property. Two officials who cooperated early with investigators were charged only with not reporting the crime in separate cases.

Ben Kirtland was sentenced in May to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1.29 million, including $1.19 million to Kansas Athletics Inc and $85,090 to the Internal Revenue Service. He also was ordered to forfeit $2 million to the government.

Most of that money is due jointly and individually by the five former Kansas athletics officials convicted of conspiracy.

The civil filing noted that the U.S. attorney’s office has collected so far $81,025 from the other four defendants in the conspiracy case that has been credited to the restitution judgment, leaving a balance due of $1.21 million.

Prosecutors argued Kirtland has not paid any of the court-ordered restitution in his criminal case, notwithstanding that Kirtland paid $63,000 to the university in a separate civil agreement before the government charged him with conspiracy.


100 9 years, 6 months ago

I hear Ashley Judd is looking for some work...

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 6 months ago

Ben has already remarried. To a dude named Bubba!

KU 9 years, 6 months ago

When the story broke about the ticket scandal and named the people who were involved, I told my (then) wife that she should not be listing and selling Brandon Simmons' house because he was selling it to avoid the consequences of being busted. She disregarded my advice and listed and sold his house anyway. I wonder if the feds would be interested in that information?

bad_dog 9 years, 6 months ago

Could he have been selling the home because he realized he could no longer afford it?

Don't "the consequences of being busted" often include loss of employment, income, legal expenses, etc.? I believe these could just as easily explain Simmons' motivations for selling the home as opposed to trying to avoid the effects of an impending prosecution/property seizure. The only way selling it could have been of any benefit to Simmons was if he had enough equity to cover the mortgage balance, his initial closing costs, the realtor commissions and any other sale related expenses. In a down market no less.

If no one had filed a lien on the property by the time it was sold, it's tough to see how the Feds can complain now. Nevertheless, there still had to be some positive cash flow from the transaction, whether forced or voluntary. Otherwise the Feds wouldn't have much interest in the property. They can't just swoop in and take s secured asset like a home from the mortgagor/bank.

ResQd 9 years, 6 months ago

Sooooooo, didn't the wife think "hmmmmmm, why is he giving me all these properties", in a divorce? Sounds fishy to me.

bad_dog 9 years, 6 months ago

I doubt most ex-wives wonders why they received the house as part of the property settlement in a divorce. It was probably sought in the initial pleadings filed by her attorney. Can't say anything about the rest of the property she received as we have no idea what she got or the value of those items. I believe however, the property settlement was drafted pursuant to local Court rules/Kansas laws and approved by the Judge presiding over the case.

100 9 years, 6 months ago

If Kirtland's ex wife looks anything like George Lopez, the "Birds of a Feather" casting department must be dreaming sweet dreams tonight...

Maybe Ashley can even use the UK-KU Madison Square Garden matchup in November to not only steal the basketball action while promoting her movie, but more importantly promoting & educating the national TV audience on plastic surgery, makeup overuse & liposuction in general...

squawkhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

KU athletics has finally made it to the big time! LOL

bad_dog 9 years, 6 months ago

If that's a "Congrats" for the 2008 NCAA basketball championship or the Ornage Bowl victory, thanks but you're a little late...

Kelly Hanrahan 9 years, 6 months ago

The headline should indicate that the suit is against Kirkland and his ex-wife.

squawkhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Too bad they don't go after Shady Lew.

Kansassucs 9 years, 6 months ago

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jgkojak 9 years, 6 months ago

Come on -

So... she filed taxes jointly with her husband, right? And though he was paid a handsome salary, she knows how to divide $200,000 a year by 12, 24 or 26 (depending on how often he was paid) - so she should have an idea of how much money was coming in.

And if all sorts of other money was coming in, or he was buying expensive things, she should know about it. I don't think she should be charged with a crime, but come on.

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