Man Charged in Scheme to Sell Season Tickets and Ownership Interest in Professional Sports Teams
|FBI Los Angeles March 07, 2014|
LOS ANGELES—A Los Angeles man was charged today for allegedly operating a scheme in which he made fraudulent offers to sell season tickets and shares of professional sports teams, announced Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and Kamala D. Harris, the Attorney General for the state of California. The announcement was made on behalf of the members who participated in the joint-agency investigation, including officers and agents with the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Probation Department, and the FBI.
George French Jones, 45, of West Los Angeles, was named in an 11-count felony complaint filed today in Los Angeles by prosecutors with the California Department of Justice. The complaint charges Jones with multiple violations of the California penal code, including fraud, grand theft, and identity theft.
An investigation of Jones’ activity began in March 2013, when representatives for the Miami Heat Basketball Team contacted law enforcement with allegations that Jones attempted to sell an interest in the Miami Heat organization that he did not own. Investigators later learned that Jones accepted a large sum of money from a victim with whom he transacted an unauthorized sale of season tickets for the Heat without delivering tickets to the victim. During the course of the case, investigators determined that Jones targeted high-profile individuals, including former NBA and NFL players, by offering to sell courtside season tickets or ownership interest in professional sports teams. According to investigators, Jones did not own or have access to shares in the professional teams, nor was Jones authorized to sell any shares of the team. The complaint alleges that Jones conducted this activity by using virtual office addresses without permission and by stealing identities to create fraudulent accounts and personas to carry out the scheme.
Jones was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on February 21, 2014 as he arrived from Miami, Florida, for violating the terms of his probation in an unrelated case. Jones is being held at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles and will be booked in connection with the fraud scheme today.
Jones is scheduled to be in court relative to the probation matter on March 12.
Based on evidence obtained in the case, investigators believe that Jones may have victimized others and urge anyone who may have been victimized to call the FBI in Los Angeles at (310) 477-6565.
This case is a result of a joint investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Probation Department, and the FBI. The Miami Heat basketball team cooperated and provided assistance during the investigation.
Jones is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office for the state of California. If convicted of the charges and the special allegations in the complaint, Jones faces a potential sentence of nine years in prison.
A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
- FBI Press Relations: (310) 996-3343
- California Department of Justice: Nick Pacilio, (415) 703-5837
- Los Angeles County Department of Probation: Carol Lin, (562) 445-9297
- Los Angeles Police Department Media Relations: (213) 486-5910