MANHATTAN (CN) — Known on the airwaves for gabbing about gambling, Craig Carton’s habit features prominently Wednesday in a federal complaint charging the sports-radio personality with a $5.6 million securities fraud.
Prosecutors say the second half of WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton in the Morning” let his passion for sports betting put him into a “Ponzi-like scheme” with alleged co-conspirator Michael Wright.
“As alleged, Craig Carton and Michael Wright deceived investors and raised millions of dollars through misrepresentation and outright lies,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement.
“Their schemes were allegedly propped up by phony contracts with two companies to purchase blocks of concert tickets, when in fact, Carton and Wright had no deals to purchase any tickets at all,” Kim continued. “As alleged, behind all the talk, the Wright and Carson show was just a sham, designed to fleece investors out of millions ultimately to be spent on payments to casinos and to pay off other personal debt.”
Charged with three counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, Carton, 48, and Wright, 41, were both released on $500,000 bonds following a hearing in Manhattan this afternoon.
Though their travel will be restricted, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck said their pretrial supervision would not be too strict.
“He can stay out all night and party, just not commit any crimes,” Peck told Wright’s attorney Jonathan Davidoff on Wednesday.
“Nobody is asking for home incarceration,” Peck added.
While the criminal complaint redacts key information, the Securities and Exchange Commission gets more precise in a separate civil filing.
“Beginning in or around the middle of 2016, at about the time he accrued millions of dollars’ worth of gambling-related debts to casinos and other third parties, Carton solicited investments in ticket reselling enterprises purportedly engaged in purchasing and reselling large blocks of concert tickets for substantial profits,” the SEC’s 21-page complaint states.
The commission accuses Carton of teaming up with New York-based businessman Joseph Meli to mislead customers about having “millions of dollars’ worth of concert tickets” by major pop stars like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Roger Waters, Metallica and Barbra Streisand.
“In reality, no such agreements with the concert promoter or venue existed, and the signatures for the concert promoter or venue were forged,” the complaint states.
Meli’s name does not appear on the criminal complaint, which does make reference to an unnamed co-conspirator.
This co-conspirator allegedly sent a text message to Carton and Wright about their plan to “clean up the debt.”
Wright responded to this message with eight possible options for getting back in the black, including: “Run to Costa Rica, change name, and start life all over again — may not be an option,” according to the complaint.
Wright's attorney said his client would be vindicated.
"Mr. Wright denies any involvement in any criminal activity," attorney Jonathan Davidoff said in an email. "Mr. Wright looks forward to all the facts being presented and his innocence being established."
Carton’s attorney Joshua Klein declined to comment outside the courtroom.
The radio personality wore sporty attire en route to sign his bond: shower shoes, white shorts and a teal T-shirt, with a hoodie draped over one shoulder.
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