Prosecutors rested their fraud case against former sports-talk-radio celebrity Craig Carton on Monday in Manhattan federal court, and the former WFAN star’s lawyer said he hasn’t decided yet whether to take the stand in his own defense.
“We do not know,” defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb told U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon. “We’re having serious conversations.”
The end of the government’s case came unexpectedly early, at the start of the second week of Carton’s trial on charges he made false statements to lure investors to put more than $4 million in his ticket re-sale business, and then diverted the money.
Prosecutors say that after promising his funders — ranging from a hedge fund to a wealthy Brooklyn pharmacist — that their money would be used to invest in event tickets that could be re-sold at a profit, Carton used the funds to pay off gambling debts and pay back earlier investors.
In testimony last week, two executives from Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, which runs Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center, said emails and ticket purchase agreements Carton forwarded to attract one of his investors, the hedge fund Brigade Capital, had been altered.
Jurors also heard testimony from the investors, who said their money was intended only for tickets, and from two loan sharks, who described high-interest short-term loans of as much as $500,000 that they made to Carton for gambling.
On Monday, a landscaper and a casino official described other debts, and an expert put in charts and records showing the flow of money from ticket investors, through Carton bank accounts to casinos, the landscaper, and the loan sharks.
Carton’s defense is that he was a victim of an alleged co-conspirator — Joseph Meli, who is in prison now for a separate ticket-related Ponzi scheme — and that he never intended to defraud or harm any of his investors.
On Monday, Gottlieb asked McMahon to dismiss the charges on that theory. “It is our position that the government has presented evidence if believed that shows misrepresentation and… may rise to the level of deceit,” he said. “…That is insufficient.”
“You’re wrong,” the judge said.