Former USGA Employee Gets Jail Time for Role in U.S. Open Ticket Fraud
Robert Fryer, the former USGA employee at the center of a scam involving U.S. Open tickets, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay millions in restitution for his role in the fraud. Fryer was the second person to receive jail time related to the case, which involved him stealing ticket to the golf tournament, then selling them to a pair of ticket brokers for sale on the secondary ticket market.
Fryer, 40, was ordered to pay $3.364,622 in restitution to the USGA, and forfeit another $1,150,000 in profits. Following the completion of his prison term, he will also have three years of supervised release.
“This defendant 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,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams. “Criminals that conduct ticket schemes like this prey on the excitement surrounding big events; fans should remember that any item with a low price that seems ‘too good to be true’ should be cause for caution and concern.”
Two ticket brokers – Jeremi Michael Conaway and James Bell – also received prison time for their roles in the scheme.
According to the U.S. Attorney, Fryer began stealing tickets from the USGA after he found a flaw in the organization’s ticketing system prior to the 2013 U.S. Open tournament in Pennsylvania. That flaw allowed him to steal tickets without them being tracked, allowing him to steal thousands of tickets, passing them on to Conaway and Bell. He was paid $1.2 million over the life of the scheme, which included events through the 2019 season and would have gone through 2020 had the event been able to have spectators.
The case was one of three high profile incidents of insiders with access to ticketing systems stealing them or resale in recent years. An employee of the Chicago White Sox who stole tickets for resale received probation in one such case, while his ticket broker co-conspirators were sentenced to prison time. More recently, a Phoenix Suns employee pleaded guilty to charges that he stole tickets and resold them on the secondary market himself, which came to light when StubHub informed the team of one user selling thousands of tickets for their games across several accounts on the marketplace.