Pair Peddled For Big Game $
Two men have been charged with running a counterfeit production and distribution operation in Queens County and elsewhere in which blocks of high quality tickets to soughtafter post-season football games-including the 2014 AFC championship in Boston, the NFC Wild Card game in Philadelphia and Sunday’s Super Bowl Championship in the Meadowlands-were allegedly forged and sold to individuals across the country through the Internet.
Other fake Super Bowl tickets allegedly being offered included tickets to the NFL Commissioner’s Party at the Waldolf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan and the star-studded NFL Honors Party at Radio City Music Hall, as well as parking passes close to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where Super Bowl XLVIII will be played.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown identified the defendants as Damon Daniels, 43, of East 168th Street in the Bronx and Jamaica, and Eugene Fladger, 32, of Williams Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Daniels and Fladger were each charged with 79 counts of second-degree forgery, 79 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, 3 counts of criminal possession of a forgery devices, one count of criminal possession of computer-related material, 79 counts of second-degree trademark counterfeiting and one count of fifth-degree conspiracy. If convicted, the defendants each face up to seven years in prison.
“The defendants are charged with not only running a lucrative illegal operation that allegedly ripped off the National Football League and sports fans alike by manufacturing wellcrafted counterfeit tickets using state-of-the art equipment but creating a security nightmare for the NFL and the vast army of local, state and federal enforcement law agencies handling security operations at this Sunday’s Super Bowl by allegedly selling fraudulent parking passes to the MetLife parking facilities,” Brown said. “Beyond that, individuals who bought tickets or passes through the Internet may be in for a rude awakening on game day.”
Police Commissioner William Bratton added, “Trademark counterfeiting in any form affects businesses and consumers alike. These two criminals conspired to produce and distribute high quality counterfeit tickets for various events including the Super Bowl and peddled them not only on the streets of New York City but also on the internet and across the country. Thanks to the joint efforts of the investigators within the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, the Queen’s District Attorney’s Office and the NFL’s Security Division this operation has been successfully shut down.”
District Attorney Brown said that the investigation began in December 2013 when the NFL’s Security Division notified the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division of an alleged counterfeit football ticket production operation.
According to the charges, Daniels and Fladger met at approximately 12:25 p.m. on December 18, 2013, on Webster Avenue in the Bronx and engaged in conversation before Daniels handed something to Fladger and both men drove away-Daniels in a white Honda and Fladger in a gold SUV. Both vehicles were allegedly followed to the corner of 29th Street and Astoria Boulevard in Queens, where the two men had another conversation before Fladger drove away and Daniels remained in his vehicle.
At approximately 1 p.m. on Dec. 18, 2013, an undercover police officer posing as a ticket buyer met Fladger on the corner of 31st Street and Astoria Boulevard and was given eight tickets to an NFL game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys that was to be played on Dec. 22, 2013, at FedEx Field in Maryland in exchange for $1,200 in cash. The tickets each had a face value of $175 and purported to grant entrance to the stadium and allow seating on the lower level. It is alleged that ten minutes later Fladger returned to 29th Street and Astoria Boulevard and double parked next to Daniels’ white Honda. Two minutes later, Daniels allegedly drove off.
It is similarly alleged that Daniels and Fladger met again on Webster Avenue in the Bronx just before noon on Jan. 2, 2014, and that less than an hour later an undercover agent met with Fladger at 31st Street and Astoria Boulevard in Queens and he was given tickets and parking passes-namely, four tickets (each with a face value of $130) to the NFL Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts that was to be played on Jan. 11, 2014, at Gillette Stadium, in Massachusetts and one NFL Gillette Stadium parking pass for the game and six tickets (each with a face value of $230) to the NFL Wild Card Playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints that was to be played on Jan. 4, 2014, at Lincoln Financial Field in Pennsylvania and one NFL Lincoln Financial Field parking pass for the game-in exchange for $1,200 in cash. Less than an hour later, Fladger and Daniels met again on Webster Avenue in the Bronx and had a conversation before both men drove off.
At approximately 11:45 a.m. on Jan. 27, 2014, according to the charges, Daniels was followed from Queens to Webster Avenue in the Bronx and observed meeting with Fladger, who was rifling through a bag containing 22 yellow tickets and twelve grey tickets to the NFL Super Bowl game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks that is to be played on Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, eight NFL parking passes for the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, twelve tickets to the NFL Honors Party at Radio City Music Hall (scheduled for Jan. 31, 2014, three tickets to the NFL Commissioner’s Party at the Waldolf-Astoria Hotel (scheduled also for January 31, 2014) and sixty-nine other tickets to various events.
According to records maintained by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the white Honda that Daniels was driving was registered to his girlfriend, Tesha Sewell, who lives on 166th Place in Queens. On Jan. 27, 2014, according to the charges, Ms. Sewell allowed authorities to enter and search her apartment. It is alleged that police recovered a computer, a printer, a package of photo-grade paper, two tickets to the Super Bowl printed on the same photo-grade paper and a bag of half ripped, incomplete, first draft tickets which appeared to be printed on normal stock paper. In a statement Daniels allegedly stated that he made the tickets at Kinkos, specifically the store on 78th Street in Manhattan.
Finally, it is alleged that all of the forged tickets bore the official NFL logo and a bar code designed to be a replication of computer data that had been duplicated in order to fool stadium scanners. The printing on the tickets, however, was allegedly washed out, there was a misprint on the back, the cutting of the tickets was not properly aligned, and various security features were missing. Similarly, the parking passes and party tickets allegedly featured washed-out printing and were not properly aligned.
District Attorney Brown thanked the National Football League for initially referring the matter and for its assistance and cooperation during the investigation, and also to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New York City for its assistance in the investigation.
The investigation was conducted by the New York City’s Organized Crime Investigations Division- namely Detectives Sean MacDonald and Gerard McNally, Sergeant James Baratta, Lieutenant Christopher Fasano, Captain John Dusanenko, Inspector John Denesopolis and Chief Thomas Pertell, Commanding Officer, Organized Crime Control Bureau.
Assistant District Attorneys Suzanne H. Sullivan and Bradley H. Chain, of the District Attorney’s Rackets Bureau, are prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Bureau Chief, and Mark L. Katz, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.
It was noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.