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Craig Carton should serve more than 5 years for ticket scam, prosecutors say

Craig Carton leaves federal court in Manhattan after

Craig Carton leaves federal court in Manhattan after his guilty verdict in November 2018.  Credit: Louis Lanzano

Former WFAN sports talk radio celebrity Craig Carton should serve more than 5 years in prison for his ticket resale Ponzi fraud, Manhattan federal prosecutors said Friday.

The memo filed with U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon came a week after Carton asked for leniency based on childhood sexual abuse he suffered, a gambling addiction he says is being treated, and charitable works including the Tic Toc Stop foundation he created for Tourette  syndrome sufferers.

Prosecutors were unmoved. “Carton’s childhood trauma does not excuse, or even explain, his actions four decades later in stealing millions of dollars, particularly since, in the intervening years, he has been able to lead a highly productive and successful life,” they wrote.

“Carton cannot claim to have been addicted to lying to investors, creating fake contracts, altering emails, or moving misappropriated investor funds through multiple bank accounts,” they told the judge. “At best, Carton’s gambling was what motivated him to access more and more money.” 

Carton, the brash and outspoken longtime morning drive-time WFAN sidekick of former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, was convicted last year of using lies and deception to scam investors out of $4 million to be used to buy tickets for in-demand sports and entertainment events and resell them at a profit.

According to testimony at trial, he exploited his WFAN connections to try to make ticket deals with executives at Barclays Center, misled investors at the hedge fund Brigade Capital, and used money he raised for personal expenses, to fund gambling debts from casino junkets, and to repay earlier investors.

The prosecutors urged a prison term between 70 and 87 months, as recommended by federal advisory sentencing guidelines, telling McMahon that Carton’s fraud was “deliberate, extended and serious” and that he took advantage of people who trusted him, including a board member at his foundation.

They also dismissed Carton’s suggestion that, if free, he could return to WFAN, use his platform to warn the public of the dangers of gambling, and make money that would allow him to more rapidly make restitution to victims.

Carton currently has assets of $3.1 million that can be used for restitution, prosecutors said, and the public already knows about problem gambling.

“Instead, a lenient sentence, followed by a quick return to the airwaves, would send the message that the misappropriation of investor funds, the forging of signatures, and the creation of fake contracts and emails have few lasting consequences, especially for public figures,” the government said.

Carton’s sentencing is scheduled for April 5.

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