Two Pennsylvania men sold thousands of stolen US Open tickets worth more than $3.7 million over a six-year span, federal prosecutors said.
Jeremi Michael Conaway, 46, and James Bell, 69, face up to 100 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine if convicted in the scheme against the US Golf Association, Acting US Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said Wednesday.
Prosecutors allege Conaway, of West Chester, and Bell, of Glen Mills, conspired with a former employee in the US Golf Association’s ticketing office, Robert Fryer, to acquire 22,504 US Open tickets between 2013 and 2019.
Fryer, 39, of Perkasie, has already pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and mail and wire fraud in the case and faces up to 20 years in prison, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Fryer admitted to operating the scheme in which he stole thousands of US Open tickets beginning in 2013 when the event was held at the Lower Merion Golf Club in Ardmore.
The USGA had no knowledge that Fryer was providing the stolen tickets to Conaway and Bell, who resold them through their ticket broker companies for hefty profits. Conaway made $1,276,134 in the scheme, while Bell netted $598,234, prosecutors allege.
Fryer sometimes delivered the stolen tickets personally or sent them via mail, prosecutors said.
The face value of the stolen US Open tickets totaled more than $3.7 million, which equated to the USGA’s lost ticket revenue over the six-year period, Williams said.
“These defendants allegedly stole revenue from an American institution and legitimate business that pays taxes, employs many, supports a non-profit organization, and brings excitement and income to our district with U.S. Open events at courses like the Merion Golf Club,” Williams said in a statement.
The USGA normally caps the number of tickets sold to any person or business at 20, but court filings cited by the Inquirer show Conaway and Bell emailed Fryer asking for hundreds of tickets at a time.
USGA officials announced in August that they were informed of the theft months earlier by federal authorities. Charges against Conaway were filed late last month, while Bell was charged Tuesday. Neither man was in custody Wednesday and they were expected to surrender at a later date, a court spokesperson told the Inquirer.