A federal indictment against former WFAN host Craig Carton was filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday, charging him with wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy for his alleged role in a Ponzi scheme tied to a ticket-reselling business and aimed at repaying gambling debts.
A lawyer for Carton, who resigned after being charged in September from his job alongside ex-football star Boomer Esiason on the highly rated “Boomer and Carton” sports talk show, said he would plead not guilty at his arraignment next week and speak publicly for the first time.
“Craig will fight these false charges with every ounce of his being but how does he ever recover his good name?” said the lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, in a statement. “He has been maligned unfairly but is confident that the truth will prevail and justice served once all of the facts come out.”
Carton, 48, of Manhattan, and co-defendant Michael Wright, 41, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, are charged with scamming more than $4 million from a hedge fund and other investors by lying and misappropriating money they were supposed to use to buy and re-sell high end tickets at a profit.
The charges also say the scam involved an unnamed co-conspirator, identified in a related Securities and Exchange Commission complaint as Joseph Meli, 43, of New York. Meli pleaded guilty earlier this week to a ticket reselling fraud in which he used investor funds to buy a Porsche and a $3 million East Hampton mansion.
Gottlieb, in his statement, said Carton was innocent, and was himself taken in by Meli’s scam.
“Investors and Craig himself were victims of the admitted scammer Joseph Meli,” the lawyer said. “Meli used and defrauded countless people including Craig Carton. The Government, in fact, just two weeks ago sent Craig a letter identifying him as one of Meli’s victims.”
Gottlieb also called the federal indictment “riddled with errors” and said, “Craig never intended to defraud a single solitary soul.”
A lawyer for Meli denied that he ever victimized Carton and said the “letter” was a standard federal notification that didn’t prove Carton was a victim.
Wright’s lawyer Jonathan Davidoff, like Gottlieb, blasted the government’s case, saying his client had passed a polygraph showing he had no knowledge of any fraud.
“The government . . . continues to manipulate statements, manipulate documents and fabricate claims against Michael Wright,” Davidoff said.