Radio broadcaster Craig Carton was arrested by FBI agents at his Manhattan home on Wednesday, charged in a scam involving concert tickets. Carton co-hosts the “Boomer and Carton” morning sports radio talk show on CBS New York’s WFAN with former NFL player Boomer Esiason.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that it has charged Carton along with Joseph Meli, the New York City businessman involved in another Ponzi scheme that involved “Hamilton” tickets, with running the concert ticket scam, which was used to cover Carton’s gambling debts.
The 26-page SEC complaint filed in federal district court in Manhattan alleges that the men falsely claimed they had access to large blocks of face-value tickets to popular concert performances, like Adele.
The SEC complaint demands a jury trial. The complaint states that Carton had debts — including gambling ones — totaling approximately $3 million, $825,000 of which was owed to an individual.
Investors, the complaint states, were “falsely promised high returns from the price markups in ticket resales.”
Instead of purchasing tickets for resale, Carton and Meli “allegedly misappropriated at least $3.6 million to repay earlier investors and cover such other expenses as Carton’s gambling debts.”
Carton, the complaint continues, allegedly stole an additional $2 million by tricking a concert venue into forwarding an investor’s money into a bank account belonging to one of Carton’s companies.
According to the SEC’s complaint, one investor was provided documents falsely representing that large blocks of Adele tickets were being purchased at face value directly from Adele’s management company when in fact no such agreement was in place.
Advance Entertainment LLC, founded and solely owned by Meli, made the “false representation” that the company “owns and/or controls” $15 million worth of Adele tickets at face value, according to the complaint.
The complaint also states that Carton provided to the investor fictitious agreements for entities controlled by Meli or Carton to purchase at face value, directly from a concert promoter or venue, millions of dollars’ worth of tickets to upcoming concerts by the artists Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Roger Waters, Metallica and Barbra Streisand.
“In reality, no such agreements with the concert promoter or venue existed, and the signatures for the concert promoter or venue were forged,” the complaint says.
CBS Radio issued a statement saying, “We are aware of the situation and are cooperating with authorities.”
Meli, 43, lives in New York City and is the founder and sole owner of defendant Advance Entertainment LLC. He was separately charged earlier this year with operating a Ponzi scheme involving purported resales of tickets to the Broadway musical “Hamilton” and other events.
“As alleged in our complaint, investors were lured with promises of big profits from resales of A-list concert tickets, but little did they know their money was being used to cover Carton’s gambling debts among other things,” said Paul Levenson, director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office.