A Perkasie, Pennsylvania man is accused of embezzling over $3 million in U.S. Open tickets over seven years, selling them to ticket brokers and pocketing over $1 million.
Robert Fryer, 39, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, and 10 counts of wire fraud related to a scheme to embezzle and pocket fraudulent proceeds from the unauthorized sale U.S. Open tickets, acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement.
The filed information alleges that the Fryer was employed in the admissions office of the United States Golf Association.
Starting in advance of the 2013 U.S. Open held at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and continuing through the 2019 U.S. Open held at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, Fryer abused his position in the USGA admissions office in order to steal more than 23,000 U.S. Open admission tickets with a face value of more than $3 million. He then sold the stolen tickets to third-party ticket brokers in return for payments totaling more than $1 million, which was paid to Fryer mostly in cash and PayPal transfers, the statement said.
The USGA had a strict 20-ticket cap on the number of tickets that it would sell to any one person, but ticket brokers were able to acquire thousands of tickets to each U.S. Open by buying stolen tickets from Fryer.
Fryer delivered the stolen tickets to brokers in a variety of ways: sometimes in person, and sometimes by sending them via Federal Express or UPS, either to the ticket brokers themselves or directly to the customers of the ticket brokers, the statement said. One ticket broker regularly emailed Fryer prepaid shipping labels that he then used to send the tickets to that broker and that broker’s customers.
“The defendant allegedly stole revenue from a 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 the statement. “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.”
Fryer faces a maximum sentence of 300 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $3,750,000 fine, and a $1,500 special assessment. In addition, Fryer will be required to pay restitution to the USGA and forfeit the proceeds he obtained as a result of the fraud.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.
Information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the statement said.
Beth Brelje is a freelance investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news.
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