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Originally published March 2, 2011 at 08:59a.m., updated March 2, 2011 at 04:52p.m.

Judge plans to sentence former KU athletic department employees Brandon Simmons, Jason Jeffries to two years of probation

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Two former Kansas Athletics Inc. employees are in line to spend two years on probation and pay thousands of dollars in restitution for their roles in a ticket-skimming scheme that cost the department at least $2 million.

Jason Jeffries and Brandon Simmons are scheduled to receive their sentences Monday during separate hearings before U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

On Wednesday, Brown filed a “tentative” ruling that calls for Jeffries and Simmons to spend two years on probation on their convictions. Both have pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony — failing to inform authorities about their knowledge of the tickets scheme at KU.

Brown intends to order the two to pay restitution: Simmons would be responsible for $157,480, and Jeffries would be responsible for $56,000.

Federal sentencing guidelines, Brown said, would recommend prison sentences of eight to 14 months, with an option for home detention. But Brown has opted for probation instead, contending that house arrest would not be necessary given “the nature of the offense” and the defendants’ “history and characteristics.”

Jeffries, as assistant director of ticket operations, and Simmons, as assistant athletics director for sales and marketing, were the first two former KU employees to plead guilty in a scheme that the university determined, through an independent investigation, resulted in about 19,000 regular-season tickets for basketball and football being stolen from 2005 to 2010.

A federal investigation — which spurred the KU investigation — ultimately resulted in five others resigning and pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Those others — Charlette Blubaugh, ticket manager; Tom Blubaugh, a paid consultant and Charlette’s husband; Rodney Jones, assistant athletics director for the Williams Fund; Ben Kirtland, associate athletics director for development; and Kassie Liebsch, a systems analyst who briefly served as ticket manager — still await sentencing.

Earlier this week, Simmons’ attorney had asked the judge to delay his client’s sentencing, to give him time to make a case for a reduced sentence. Simmons had pleaded guilty, Mark Bennett Jr. said, with the expectation that prosecutors would file a motion acknowledging “substantial assistance” by his client, a motion that could help support a reduced sentence.

“He’s cooperated from the very get go on this thing,” Bennett said in July, after Simmons entered his guilty plea. “He’s been interviewed twice (by the attorney working for KU). He’s been interviewed by federal agents. He’s provided every piece of information he has, or has been asked about.”

But Bennett learned Monday that no such support would be coming from prosecutors. Richard Hathaway, assistant U.S. attorney, had told him that “since the case has been disposed of without the necessity of a trial the defendant had not provided the requisite substantial assistance,” Bennett said.

Bennett was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined to discuss whether the tickets case indeed had been “disposed of,” now that seven defendants had pleaded guilty.

“Our remarks will be made in the courtroom,” Cross said.

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Comments

billybob1 8 years, 8 months ago

It just goes to show you that Hathaway never tells the truth.

jhawklifer 8 years, 8 months ago

+1. What an unethical d-bag. At least the judge took it upon himself to enter the "tentative" ruling presumably requested by the defendants' lawyers to back off that ridiculous prosecutor. Our system would totally stall if prosecutors were able to renege on plea agreements because the co-defs didn't go to trial. That is a F***ING outrage!!!!

MrClean 8 years, 8 months ago

I guess theft, or conspriracy to theft, is a lucrative career. Maybe, instead of busting my butt to provide an honest living for my wife and kids, I should consider a career change. Hell, if the most I will get is a slap on the wrist..it may be worth the risk. At least, that is the message sent here. This joke gets funnier each time a new article is posted. Does this mean Rodney Jones will get, three years probation and another 6-figure job somewhere? Humm, a life of crime...hummm.

esubrett 8 years, 8 months ago

You're going to need a crew. I am tired of honest work too. I'm in.

Jeremy Bolinger 8 years, 8 months ago

So send him to prison, a place where maybe he will learn from his violent ways? I'd rather my tax dollars go to paying for the real criminals. You know, the rapists, murders, child molesters.....people like that. I hardly consider $156,000 a slap on the wrist. Also, this country is full of 2nd chances, and im sure you probably have a few skeletons in your closet there Mr. Clean.

ZDKC 8 years, 8 months ago

Valid point. Also these people's lives are already affected adversely. Assuming that a bright employer runs a background check or heck, even a Google search of his prospective employees , I'd say it's going to difficult for these people to integrate back into society. The trust is all gone.

(Then again, I could be complete wrong. I "dunno")

Danny Hernandez 8 years, 8 months ago

well if both men provided testimony that helped convict the others, I have no problem with their sentence. hopefully, they'll pay the resitution and it's not like they'll have it easy trying to gain employment and such..their lives are pretty much ruined.

plus, it's cheaper than costing the federal government another 20K + per inmate considering it's us, the tax payers that foot the bill

Bobo Fleming 8 years, 8 months ago

Much better to be white collar criminal than blue collar. Dont rob the pizza guy. Just steal basket ball tickets..

ModerateOne 8 years, 8 months ago

The pizza guy would no doubt see things differently. Don't worry. Rodney and the Blubai will go to jail. Jeffries and Simmons are just kids.

cowboy 8 years, 8 months ago

Im all in on this new gang . Call me !

cowboy 8 years, 8 months ago

Im all in on this new gang . Call me !

gchawk 8 years, 8 months ago

You're point is well taken, but these two clowns are not the big fish, the other 4 are. Those 4 will get their "just due".

RockCaCO3 8 years, 8 months ago

Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Screw KU (and only get put on probation).

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 8 months ago

I'm in too. Let's call ourselves ocean's jayhawks. Essentially stealing over 50k and 140k and all you have to do is repay it?!?! WTF!

milehighhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Probation????

What a joke!

Lock up drug mules for decades & let people who embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars go with a slap on the wrist. Amazing.

George Powell 8 years, 8 months ago

Since when did this become a petty theft crime. I guess it does pay to be a criminal.

MrClean 8 years, 8 months ago

Ocean's Jayhawks. I like that. We need a man (or woman) on the inside. Anyone know any underqualified recent college grads we can recruit to apply to the Athletic Department; who can then be hired to a 6-figure job with a lot of responsibility, and no oversight or accountability?

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 8 months ago

With rosy cartoon pig like cheeks and a weird underbite smile. Oh that's going to be tough!

Steve Jacob 8 years, 8 months ago

Just saw the Dave Cheppell show part where the white collar criminals where treated like drug dealers.

Jeremy Bolinger 8 years, 8 months ago

Who on here hasn't gotten a 2nd chance? Who? Anyone?.........Just curious

Orwell 8 years, 8 months ago

Fortunately, most of us didn't need a "second chance" to know that stealing thousands of dollars is… what's that word?

Oh, yeah… wrong! It's an old-fashioned concept, but still…

Jeremy Bolinger 8 years, 8 months ago

People screw up. Thats what happens. Even some of you 40 something year olds do. I know thats hard for some of you to believe. Anyways, nobody knows what they would do until put in that situation. But oh well, I thank God everyday for the 2nd chances I got in life. Some of you should as well.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 8 months ago

A screw up or bad choice in a moment, yes. Repeated stealing over the course of years, not so much.

Aligned 8 years, 8 months ago

They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. I'm tired of second chances. Throw the bastards in the clink for as long as possible.

LeBo 8 years, 8 months ago

Sad that I once thought the legal system was fixable, first 31 years misplaced as an Army MP and public servant.

BigAl 8 years, 8 months ago

Small potatoes. The big fish are still to come.

jhawklifer 8 years, 8 months ago

I just can't get the vitriol on this board about Simmons and Jefferies. They cooperated fully with the State. They didn't initiate the scam. What do you think would have happened to their careers in athletics if they had blown the whistle on Lew or whoever was the real big fish (Kirtland?)? Once they were implicated, they gave the feds information in exchange for a deal (which the DA foolishly tried to go back on). The feds wouldn't have agreed to the deal if they didn't receive adequate consideration for making it. Simmons and Jefferies deserve the benefit of their bargain, and need to get probation accordingly. It has nothing to do with second chances or the severity of the offense. It has to do with the feds' agreement to keep them out of prison in exchange for their testimony against the co defendants. This is the way justice works in this country. Doesn't make it wrong or that these guys are getting off easy. Permanent public humiliation, sizable restitution orders, and supervised federal probation with a stiff underlying sentence in fed prison if probation is violated is no joke.

Gig 8 years, 8 months ago

Agree with Lifer - apparently these guys are the smallest players in the wrongdoing, and they were also the first to deal with the feds. This is a suitable plea bargain under those circumstances. The feds have to be able to cut "sweetheart" deals with the smallest fish in order to successfully prosecute the bigger fish.

I just hope the feds keep going and indict any and all others involved in this scam.

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