WFAN talk-show host Craig Carton was arrested Wednesday on federal charges stemming from a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme involving fake concert tickets, prosecutors said.
The 48-year-old Carton, who co-hosts the "Boomer and Carton" morning sports show with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, was taken into custody by federal agents at his Manhattan apartment.
Carton, a native of New Rochelle, and his accomplice, Michael Wright of Upper Saddle River, N.J., ripped off several investors for a few million dollars, prosecutors said.
They were charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.
The $5.6 million scam was put in place in order to pay off Carton's gambling debts, according to the the New York Daily News. Court papers allege Carton ran up millions of dollars in losses with two casinos, plus a debt of $825,000 to an unidentified individual, the Daily News said.
The pair and another person referred to as "CC-1" in documents worked together to "induce investors to provide them with millions of dollars — based on representations that the investor funds would be used to purchase blocks of tickets to concerts — which would then be re-sold on the secondary market," said a statement from prosecutors.
Carton and CC-1 supposedly had access to those blocks of tickets based on agreements that CC-1 had with a company that promotes live music and entertainment events, and that Carton had with a company that operates two arenas in the New York metropolitan area, authorities said.
An investigation found that neither company had any agreement with Carton, Wright or CC-1, prosecutors said.
The misappropriated money was used to pay off personal debts or prior investors as part of the Ponzi-like scheme.
If they are found guilty:
- the conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, authorities said.
- the securities fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.
- the wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The "Boomer and Carton" show has been a mainstay on WFAN since 2007, when it filled the highly coveted morning drive spot that had been held by Don Imus. The "Boomer and Carton" show is also simulcast on TV on the CBS Sports Network.
During his rise in broadcasting, Carton's influence has extended beyond sports. Talkers Magazine named him one of the top 100 Most Important and Influential Talk Show hosts in the U.S.
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