5 former employees indicted in University of Kansas ticket scandal

TOPEKA, Kansas - Five former employees at the University of Kansas have been indicted for their alleged roles in a scandal that involved more than $2 million in tickets, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

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The indictment alleges tickets to Kansas basketball, football and other athletic events were stolen and sold by ticket brokers or third parties. Named in the indictment are:

  • Thomas Ray Blubaugh, 46, Medford, Okla., who was working as a consultant to the ticket office at KU.
  • Charlette Faye Blubaugh , 43, Medord, Okla., who was Associate Athletic Director in charge of the ticket office at KU. Thomas Ray Blubaugh is her husband.
  • Ben Kirtland , 54, Lenexa, Kan., who was Associate Athletic Director of Development and supervisor of the Williams Educational Fund. The Williams Fund is the fund-raising arm of Kansas Athletics, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that promotes university athletics. Kirkland was the head of fund raising for Kansas Athletics, Inc., and the highest ranking official working directly with the Williams Fund.
  • Rodney Dale Jones, 42, Lawrence, Kan., who was Assistant Athletic Director in charge of the Williams Educational Fund.
  • Kassie Liebsch, 28, Lawrence, Kan., who was a systems analyst working in the KU Athletics ticket office.

Blubaugh is accused of stealing season tickets for the athletic events and giving them to Kirkland, Jones, Liebsch, Brendan Simmons and Jason Jeffries to sell to third parties. Simmons and Jeffries, who have pleaded guilty to related federal offenses , are not named as defendants in this indictment

The conspirators allegedly made between $3 and $5 million on the scheme.

According to the indictment, in order to divert tickets, the conspirators:

  • Entered false information into a computer system designed to prevent tickets from being stolen.
  • Paid kickbacks to third parties not connected to the ticket office to sell tickets to individuals and through ticket brokers.
  • Had checks written to third parties not connected to the ticket office.
  • Had ticket brokers write checks that were converted to cash at the brokers’ banks.
  • Purchased money orders with cash in amounts less than currency reporting requirements in an effort to keep the proceeds from being traced back to them.
  • Concealed the receipt of their outside income on reports required by NCAA rules.

The indictment seeks a money judgment of between $3 million and $5 million, representing the value of the stolen tickets.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million each.

"I have been a loyal Jayhawk fan for more than 60 years. I think it is a sad and egregious reflection on the recently retired athletic directors administration," said Fred LaMar.

He is a KU season ticket holder and a member of the Williams Educational Fund.

Former KU Athletic Director, Lew Perkins, was not named in the indictment.

 

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