Leniency despite ticket seller conspiracy
The two co-owners of Wiseguy Tickets Inc. — who used sophisticated computer programs to secure top-dollar tickets to major events, then made more than $25 million in profits by reselling them to secondary market vendors — were sentenced to two years’ probation Thursday in a Newark, N.J., court.
Federal prosecutors had asked for two years in prison for the L.A.-based defendants, Kenneth Lowson and Kristofer Kirsch, who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in November. A company programmer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was given one year of probation.
The agency sold some 1.5 million tickets from 2002-09. Utilizing a program devised by Bulgarian developers to evade ticket vendors’ Captcha systems, Wiseguy would buy scores of tickets to concerts and sporting events at the moment that they went on sale, using a plethora of websites, email addresses and credit cards to conceal their identities. In one case, the agency managed to snatch up nearly half of the available floor seats for a 2008 Bruce Springsteen show at Giants Stadium.
It’s unclear if any precedent will be set by the case, though the light sentences may raise eyebrows. As presiding Judge Katharine S. Hayden pointed out, the trial that would have ensued had the defendants pleaded not guilty would have surely involved a deeper dissection of secondary market ticketing and the complicated legality of its various practices.
Secondary market selling has been an especially contentious area of the concert biz, with a number of incidents this year sparking debate. Dance-rock group LCD Soundsystem was forced to schedule a slate of five make-up concerts after its April “farewell” show at Madison Square Garden sold out with improbable speed. Last month, a leaked copy of Katy Perry’s tour rider raised hackles with its request for a portion of tickets to be set aside for resale by the pop star’s management.