CHICAGO -- A Chicago ticket broker convicted of fraudulently selling tickets to White Sox games was sentenced to prison Tuesday after a federal judge rejected his argument that he had actually helped the team by putting more concession-buying fans in the seats.
During a hearing, the judge sentenced Bruce Lee, 35, to 1½ years in federal prison, after a jury in October found him guilty of fraud. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly also ordered Lee to pay $74,650 in restitution to the White Sox with his co-defendants and to personally forfeit about $450,000 in ill-gotten gains, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The judge made it clear that he wasn't convinced by the argument made by Lee's attorney in the sentencing memo seeking probation for Lee. The defense argued that the baseball team benefited at the concession stands from the scheme and that the team didn't place any value on the tickets anyway.
Kennelly called the suggestion that nobody was harmed "delusional," and said it was important to make the point to others who might want to embark on a similar scheme that getting caught might cost them their freedom.
"The math needs to include the possibility that, if I get caught paying these people under the table, I'm going to lose my liberty," Kennelly said. "Without that, it's just dollars and cents."
Lee, the owner of a Chicago-based ticket brokerage, Great Tickets, and two White Sox employees, James Costello and William O'Neil, were arrested in 2020 and accused of taking part in a sophisticated scheme that involved selling thousands of fraudulently created tickets to White Sox games.
The scheme generated close to $1 million for the three men, federal prosecutors said at the time.
Costello, 67, and O'Neil, 52, have both pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme. They cooperated with the investigation and are awaiting sentencing.