Westchester native and former WFAN sports talk personality Craig Carton’s fraud trial has started this week.
The 48-year-old Carton, who grew up in New Rochelle, has been charged with wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy for his role in an alleged Ponzi scheme, which was allegedly aimed with an eye toward clearing gambling debt. The scheme was tied to a fake ticket scam.
In his opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Quigley said that Carton diverted the money to pay for gambling debt and personal expenses. Carton’s lawyers have reportedly said he is the victim of an alleged con man. Carton has pleaded not guilty.
“Carton used that money as his personal piggy bank,” Quigley said, according to a New York Daily News report. Carton’s defense team has stated that prosecutors have the case “all wrong,” calling the business “a real, legitimate, licensed ticket resale business.”
Carton co-hosted the “Boomer and Carton” morning show for a decade alongside retired NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason. He was a guest on WABC's "Sid & Bernie" show in September, marking his first radio appearance since leaving WFAN and denying the alleged ticket-resale scam was illegal.
“I recognize that it's an uphill battle, cause they typically win, but you hear all the time about how they have a 98 percent conviction rate,” Carton told host Sid Rosenberg, referring to the Southern District Attorney of New York. ”Well, that includes plea bargains. When you plea, you’re pleading guilty to something that counts as a conviction.
"I'm not pleading to anything because I firmly believe that when the facts come out you'll see that I was running a legitimate legal business. I think my case stands up on its own merit."
According to authorities, Carton and co-defendant Michael Wright allegedly ripped off investors of as much as $4.6 million in the Ponzi scheme.
The scam was put in place in order to pay off Carton's gambling debts, according to reports, which state that court papers allege Carton ran up millions of dollars in losses with two casinos, plus a debt of $825,000 to an unidentified individual.
Carton, Wright and a third party allegedly 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.
"It's very scary, it's the fight of my life but I'll tell you what I said the day I got arrested, which was Sept. 6 almost a year ago to the day, and that is I'm not guilty,” Carton told WABC. “I look forward to my opportunity to lay it out for everybody.
"I wish I could have, I regret that I didn't early on, but when you hire good lawyers and they tell you what to do there are times to shut your mouth and do what the lawyers tell you to do.”
Carton currently has a show on the FNTSY Sports Network called “Carton & Friends.”
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