Craig Carton, the co-host of the popular New York sports radio morning show “Boomer and Carton,” has been arrested by the FBI on fraud charges accusing him of running a $5 million dollar Ponzi scheme to cover his massive gambling losses.
The 48-year-old radio star, who has hosted the WFAN morning show with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason since 2007, was arrested Wednesday morning at his Manhattan apartment, the New York Post reports. Carton and his business partners are accused of creating a fake ticket company and then using funds from new investors to repay earlier investors and other debts, the newspaper reports.
He is facing charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit those offenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Souther District of New York said in a press release. His business partner, Michael Wright, 48, of New Jersey, was also arrested on the same charges.
“As alleged, Craig Carton and Michael Wright deceived investors and raised millions of dollars through misrepresentation and outright lies,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement. “Their schemes were allegedly propped up by phony contracts with two companies to purchase blocks of concert tickets, when in fact, Carton and Wright had no deals to purchase any tickets at all. As alleged, behind all the talk, the Wright and Carson show was just a sham, designed to fleece investors out of millions ultimately to be spent on payments to casinos and to pay off other personal debt.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Carton Fradulently Told Investors His Company Had Purchased Millions of Dollars Worth of Tickets to Concerts by Artists Like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber & Metallica, Authorities Say
Craig Carton and another man, Joseph Meli, are also being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in a civil case in Manhattan federal court. The SEC is suing Carton and his business partner, Meli, along with the companies founded as part of the scheme: AdvanceM Ltd., Misoluki Inc., Misoluki LLC, Ticket Jones LLC and Tier One Tickets LLC.
Meli was previously arrested in January on charges connected to a ticket resale fraud involving tickets to the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.” In that case, Meli and others are accused of raising more than $97 million from investors in a fake ticket company and then using that money to pay back early investors, while also paying for gambling, jewelry private school tuition and other expenses, Reuters reports. According to court documents, Carton has had a business relationship with Meli since 2015, and over two years received more than $5.4 million from Advance Entertainment LLC, the company tied to the alleged fraud that led to Meli’s arrest.
In the recent case involving Carton, Meli and the radio host are accused of soliciting “investments in ticket reselling enterprises purportedly engaged in purchasing and reselling large blocks of concert tickets for substantial profits. Carton falsely claimed to investors that he—sometimes on his own and sometimes through Meli—had access to millions of dollars’ worth of concert tickets at face value,” the SEC alleges in the court documents. According to the SEC:
Carton provided fabricated and forged documents to an investor purporting to reflect agreements for the purchase of large blocks of tickets by entities controlled by Meli or Carton. In certain cases, Meli provided these fake agreements to Carton, for the express purpose of having Carton pass them along to an investor.
Carton provided to one investor fictitious agreements for entities controlled by Meli or Carton to purchase at face value, directly from a concert promoter or venue, millions of dollars’ worth of tickets to upcoming concerts by the artists Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Roger Waters, Metallica, and Barbra Streisand. In reality, no such agreements with the concert promoter or venue existed, and the signatures for the concert promoter or venue were forged. Carton provided to another investor documents referencing a purported agreement by an entity controlled by Meli to purchase millions of dollars’ worth of Adele concert tickets at face value, directly from Adele’s management company. Again, there was no such agreement with Adele’s management company.
Carton and Meli are accused of then using new investor funds to pay back earlier investors and other debts, including Carton’s personal debts to casinos, instead of buying tickets for resale “as promised,” the SEC says. Carton and Meli are together accused of misappropriating $3.6 million from two investors, while Carton additionally is accused off misappropriating another $2 million from one of those same two investors.
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“In one instance, Carton misappropriate investor funds by making misrepresentations to both the investor and a third-party concert venue, so as to trick the concert venue into forwarding the investor’s funds to an entity controlled by Carton,” the SEC says.
You can read the full SEC filing below:
Meli is not named in the new criminal charges.
2. He Used the Scheme to Pay Back ‘Millions of Dollars’ Worth of Gambling-Related Debts,’ the SEC Says
Carton is accused of using the Ponzi scheme to back back “millions of dollars’ worth of gambling-related debts” to casinos and individuals, according to the SEC court filing. Federal authorities say the fraud began in 2016. Carton wrote to Meli that he was about $3 million “in the whole [sic],” according to court documents.
He told Meli he had “risked and lost” $700,000 worth of investor money, and owed $825,000 to that investor. He also said he owed $500,000 to two casinos.
According to the SEC, Carton then convinced an investor to give them $1 million, claiming it would be used to pay for a block of tickets to an Adele concert, which would then be re-sold. In reality, the SEC alleges, Carton and Meli used that investment to pay back Carton’s casino debt.
3. Esiason Started Wednesday’s Show by Saying Carton Was Sick, but Later Announced His Partner Had Been Arrested Saying He Is ‘Taken Aback & Surprised’
Boomer Esiason, Carton’s co-host on the “Boomer and Carton” morning show, began Wednesday’s broadcast by saying that Carton was “under the weather” and a guest would be filling in, according to NJ.com. Later in the morning, Esiason did address the news of Carton’s arrest:
“I am aware now why Craig was not here this morning. Unfortunately, he was arrested. The station is aware and cooperating with authorities. I’m taken aback and surprised just as everybody else is. I have no other information,” Esisason said. “I thought he called in sick this morning. I guess there will be more news to come from somewhere, but it’s not coming from me since I don’t have it.”
In a statement, CBS Radio, Carton’s employer at WFAN, said, “We are aware of the situation and are cooperating with authorities.”
4. Carton Faces Up to 45 Years in Prison if Convicted of the Charges
Carton was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.
According to prosecutors, the conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The securities fraud charge carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $5 million. The wire fraud charge also carries a possible 20-year prison sentence, along with a fince of up to $250,000.
“Carton and Wright thought they could get off easy by allegedly paying off their debts with other people’s money,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “They then attempted to pay off investors with money that would eventually become future debt, as alleged. We see this time and time again, the rise and fall of a Ponzi scheme destined for failure. The truth is, the time will come when your luck runs out. Unfortunately for those arrested today, that time is now.”
Carton could not be reached for comment and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney.
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5. Carton, Who Has Worked in Radio Since 1991 & Reportedly Makes $250,000 a Year, Is Married & Has 4 Children
Craig Carton has been the co-host of “Boomer and Carton” on WFAN Radio since 2007, and the show has been simulcast on TV, first on the local MSG Network from 2010 to 2013, and then nationally, on the CBS Sports Network, since 2014. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Carton earns a salary of $250,000 a year.
Carton is married, to Kim Carton, and has four children, according to his bio on the CBS Radio website.
He began his radio career in 1991.
“Radio veteran Craig Carton, who interned at WFAN during college, has spent more than 20 years in the broadcast industry working for various stations around the country, including notable stops in Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Denver, New York and New Jersey, before coming full-circle and returning to his hometown to co-host WFAN’s morning show,” CBS says in Carton’s bio. “During the course of his seasoned radio career he has been recognized by numerous publications including the National Association of Broadcasters, Cynopsis, Philadelphia magazine and Talkers, as well as ranking on Politicsnj.com’s Power List of New Jersey’s most politically influential personalities, during his time hosting afternoons at NJ 101.5.
“Carton serves as the voice of the passionate New York sports fan, while providing comic relief, and getting behind some of the biggest sports stories in the tri-state area. In 2013, he released his first book, Loudmouth,” according to CBS.