Defendant in SEC Cases Involving Ticket Resale Investment Schemes Sentenced to More than Six Years' Imprisonment in Parallel Criminal Case

Litigation Release No. 24099 / April 5, 2018

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Joseph Meli, et al., No. 17-CV-632 (S.D.N.Y.)

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Craig H. Carton, et al., No. 17-CV-6764 (S.D.N.Y.)

United States v. Steven Simmons and Joseph Meli, No. 17-CR-127 (S.D.N.Y.)

Joseph Meli has been sentenced by a federal court in Manhattan to more than six years in prison in connection with a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme involving purported resales of tickets to popular concerts and Broadway shows. The criminal case arises from the same conduct alleged in two Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement actions filed against Meli in 2017.

Meli was arrested in January 2017 and later pleaded guilty to securities fraud. In connection with his plea, Meli admitted to raising millions of dollars from investors including by providing some investors with fake agreements containing fraudulent signatures that claimed to show Meli's company had agreements with various production and management companies to purchase large blocks of tickets. On April 3, 2018, a federal court sentenced Meli to 78 months' imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay forfeiture in the amount of $104,765,565 and restitution in an amount to be finalized at a later date.

In 2017, the SEC filed two enforcement actions against Meli in federal district court in Manhattan. In the first action, the SEC alleged that Meli and his co-defendants solicited investments for the bulk purchase and resale of tickets to popular Broadway shows and concerts, but used the majority of the more than $97 million raised to make payments to earlier investors and to enrich Meli, his family, and a co-defendant. On April 26, 2017, the court entered a preliminary injunction and asset freeze against Meli and his co-defendants in that matter. In the second action, the SEC alleged that Meli and New York sports radio personality Craig Carton raised millions from investors by falsely claiming that they had access to large blocks of face-value tickets to popular concert performances. Instead of purchasing tickets for resale, Carton and Meli allegedly misappropriated at least $3.6 million to repay earlier investors and to cover other expenses, including Carton's gambling debts. Both SEC actions charge Meli and his co-defendants with securities fraud in violation of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC's litigation against Meli and his co-defendants remains ongoing.

The SEC's cases are being handled by Dahlia Rin, John McCann, Martin Healey, and Celia Moore of the Boston Regional Office. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.