Second ex-Kansas official pleads guilty

Published Jul. 15, 2010 1:00 a.m. ET

A second former University of Kansas athletics official admitted in court that he knew about a massive scam that allegedly involved the theft and sale of at least $1 million worth of tickets to sporting events.

Brandon Simmons, the school's former assistant athletic director for sales in marketing, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Wichita to one count of misprision of a felony - the same charge his former colleague, Jason Jeffries, pleaded guilty to Wednesday.

Like Jeffries, Simmons was charged with knowing about the scam and concealing it from authorities.

Although neither man admitted in court to profiting from the scheme, a university investigation found the two sold more than $200,000 worth of tickets to Jayhawks games between 2007 and 2010 through ticket brokers. Both defendants agreed to forfeit property as part of their plea deals.

That investigation also determined that three other athletics department employees and a consultant - none of whom still work for the school - also took part in the scheme.

Only Simmons and Jeffries have been charged in the case, but the university has turned their findings over to federal prosecutors to investigate.

Prosecutors did not immediately respond to an e-mail Thursday seeking comment.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett said in court Thursday that Simmons pocketed money from stolen tickets sold through an Oklahoma broker. She said Simmons received tickets that had been obtained by altering school records.

Simmons, 30, could receive up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his Sept. 29 sentencing, but he'll likely get far less, if any, prison time. Both men remain free on their own recognizance.

Mark Bennett, Simmons' attorney, told reporters after the hearing that the university report is "pretty accurate." He said Simmons fully cooperated when interviewed by the university, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

"He has cooperated from the very 'git go in this thing," Bennett said.

Jeffries, 35, was the school's former assistant director of ticket operations. His sentencing is also scheduled for Sept. 29.

Details of the scam surfaced in May, when school officials disclosed that a report by a Wichita law firm was sent to federal investigators already looking into allegations of wrongdoing in the athletics department and the school's athletics fundraising arm, the Williams Educational Fund.

The law firm's investigation found that five Kansas athletics employees and consultant sold or used at least 17,609 men's basketball tickets, 2,181 football tickets and a number of parking passes and other passes for personal purposes.

The report showed over $887,000 in basketball tickets and more than $122,000 worth of football tickets were involved.

Investigators were unable to determine what portion of the $1 million in tickets were sold directly to ticket brokers. Distribution of the tickets were disguised by department employees as complimentary and inventory tickets, or other categories with limited accountability.