Sports Talk show host Craig Carton [photo], allegedly lured investors into a fraudulent ticket resale business, promising to deliver face-value tickets to concerts by stars like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Metallica, etc
WFAN morning show co-host Craig Carton was arrested early Wednesday for duping investors out of $5.6 million to cover his staggering gambling debts, authorities said.
The usually acerbic Carton turned to crime after running up millions of dollars in losses with two casinos, plus a debt of $825,000 to an unidentified individual, court papers charged.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused 48-year-old Carton and Michael Wright of running a kind of Ponzi scheme in which they solicited investments from victims, including a Manhattan hedge fund, that the two men said they would use to buy and sell concert tickets. The money was instead used to pay personal debts and earlier investors.
“Behind all the talk, the Carton and Wright show was just a sham, designed to fleece investors out of millions ultimately to be spent on payments to casinos and … other personal debt,” said U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.
A subdued Carton and co-defendant Michael Wright were both charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. The two could face a maximum of 45 years in prison and fines running into millions of dollars.
Both were ordered released on $500,000 personal recognizance bond after an afternoon court appearance.
Co-conspirators: Michael Wright [photo], and Carton are charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy
Michael Wright, dressed in a T-shirt and gym shorts, held his head in his hands before the Manhattan Federal Court hearing began.
A 26-page Securities and Exchange Commission filing accused Carton of lying to his investors, going as far as to send phony documents and e-mails to his unsuspecting business partners.
“Carton’s deceit did not stop with providing fake documents … When [one investor] made its $2 million investment, Carton misappropriated the money by lying,” the filing stated.
The S.E.C.’s complaint states that Carton solicited investments in enterprises that he falsely claimed had access to millions of dollars’ worth of concert tickets at face value and would resell large blocks of tickets for substantial profits.
Furthermore, Carton provided to one investor fake agreements for entities that he or an associate controlled to buy millions of dollars’ worth of tickets to forthcoming concerts by Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Roger Waters, Metallica and Barbra Streisand, the S.E.C. filing stated.
Carton was arrested by FBI agents at his Manhattan home, causing the sports talk show host to miss his morning show opposite co-host, former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason.
An unusually subdued. Craig Carton leaves federal court after his arraignment in Manhattan, NY, Sept 6, 2017
“I am aware now why Craig is not here this morning,” Esiason told listeners Wednesday. “Unfortunately, he was arrested this morning … I’m taken aback and surprised by it, just like everybody else is.
“I thought he called in sick this morning, but unfortunately my partner was arrested.”
CBS Radio, the parent company of WFAN, released a statement saying they were aware of the arrest and cooperating with authorities.
Carton earns a reported $250,000 a year as the sports radio station’s morning drive-time co-host.
FBI agents arrested controversial sports radio host Craig Carton on multi-million dollar fraud charges, at is Manhattan home early Wednesday
Carton allegedly lured investors into a fraudulent ticket resale business, promising to deliver face-value tickets to concerts by stars like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Metallica and Barbra Streisand.
One specific phony deal focused on purchasing millions of dollars in tickets for Adele’s tour directly from the singer’s management.
“In reality, no such agreements with the concert promoter or venue existed, and the signatures for the concert promoter or venue were forged,” the SEC charged.
At the time, Carton had “accrued millions of dollars worth of gambling-related debts to casinos and other third parties,” court papers indicated.
Some of the money scammed from investors was used to repay other investors in what prosecutors described as “a Ponzi-like scheme.”
The S.E.C. said that Craig Carton and another associate, Joseph G. Meli, 43, misappropriated at least $3.6 million from two investors, while Carton alone also misappropriated another $2 million from one of those investors.
Joseph Meli was named as a defendant in the S.E.C. complaint. he was however not mentioned in the criminal complaint.
Joseph Meli [left], and his wife, Jessica Meli, exit U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan on Jan. 27. Meli who is facing an $81million ‘Ponzi’ fraud case has been named as a co-conspirator with Craig Carton
In January, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed criminal charges against Meli, accusing him of defrauding investors of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme built around a reselling scheme involving tickets to the Broadway musical “Hamilton” and other high-profile events. Meli has pled not guilty to those charges.
Ever controversial, Carton was a close friend of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, often inviting the politician to appear on his WFAN program.
He and Esiason also hosted an annual benefit softball game to benefit the Port Authority PBA Widows’ and Children’s Fund.
A second lawsuit filed against Carton this past May accused him of failure to pay $114,116.13 in rent on a Soho business office lease under the name Advance, which happens to be one of his bogus ticket-selling companies.
WFAN co-hosts Boomer Esiason [left] and Craig Carton [right], are known for their caustic treatment of issues and events.
The SEC filing also accused Joseph Meli, 43, of Manhattan, of conspiring with Carton in the scam. Meli was not mentioned in the criminal complaint.
A former Tribeca neighbor of Carton told the News there was no indications of any problems with the radio show host.
“He was a very nice guy around me,” said the neighbor. “He was very quiet.”
Carton, a married father-of-four children is known for his acerbic wit and controversy courting antics. He joined former NY Jets star Esiason on WFAN exactly a decade ago.
The shock jock of the sports broadcast was nominated in 2006 as national talk show host of the year.