NEW YORK — New York’s attorney general has found a secret weapon in the fight against crime in the music industry: Hootie and the Blowfish.
Last year, the band helped New York State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco crack down on counterfeit and bootleg recordings. On Wednesday, Vacco disclosed that Hootie and the Blowfish helped bring to light an illegal ticket-scalping scheme involving concerts by Hootie, Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos and other artists.
Joseph Nekola, the former head of the Jones Beach Theater ticket office, has been charged with stealing thousands of tix and selling them to brokers and friends at markups ranging from 35% to 100%.
Nekola allegedly reaped $500,000 through the illegal activity. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain.
Vacco’s office began an investigation into Jones Beach Theater, a popular seaside arena on Long Island, after receiving a complaint from Rusty Harmon, manager of Hootie and the Blowfish. The band was upset that tickets for the first 10 rows of their 1996 Jones Beach concerts were being sold by ticket brokers charging markups of more than 1,000%. The attorney general found a similar pattern for 36 other concerts.
“This case has offered us a glimpse into the shady deals made in the entertainment world where the public suffers while insiders take advantage of their employment to make huge profits through thievery and bribery,” Vacco said.
In July 1996, the owners of Second Coming Records on Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village were arrested on charges of manufacturing and selling counterfeit compact discs in their store and through the mail (Daily Variety, July 5, 1996). Harmon joined Vacco at the press conference to announce the arrest.