Craig Carton has been found guilty of fraud after a short trial, with the jury of three men and nine women finding the WFAN shock jock guilty on all three counts against him, including securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
The convictions — which mean Carton could spend 45 years in prison, but will likely face eight to 12 years, comes after Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark threw cold water on the radio host’s claim that he had a deal with BSE Global to buy millions of dollars worth of concerts tickets for resale. Last week Yormark testified that his signature was forged and an email falsified in a ticket deal at the center of Carton’s fraud case.
Carton’s central defense in the ponzi scheme trial was that he operated a legitimate ticket business that went sideways only after he became entangled with confessed fraudster Joe Meli. But jurors rejected that argument and concurred with prosecutor’s claims that Carton and Meli were co-conspirators who stole millions from a hedge fund. Testifying against Carton were a shady cast of characters. including a mobbed-up loan shark, a “pharmaceutical” executive and a shady strip club owner. Desmond Finger, a general manager of Manhattan strip club Sapphire 39, told the jury he gave Carton several high-interest loans, valued at $500,000 each, to finance gambling trips in 2016 and 2017. Their relationship ended when Carton failed to repay a $500,000 loan in 2017, Finger testified. The loan shark and pharma exec also said they loaned money to Carton and we’re repaid.

Carton looked straight ahead as the guilty verdicts were read, according to the NY Post. Outside the courthouse, he told reporters,“I need to let it sink in now,” before saying, “I’m going to go home and hug my kids and let my lawyers deal with the rest of it.”

His lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, said Carton will appeal the verdict. Carton is due back in court Feb. 27 for sentencing.

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“As a unanimous Manhattan jury has found, Carton was all talk,” US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said to reporters after the conviction. “Carton fabricated contracts for blocks of tickets and spent the almost $7 million he collected from investors on gambling and personal expenses,” Berman added.

Early last week, Yormark —also head of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment— took the stand and told jurors he had never signed a deal that promised millions of dollars in concert tickets to a company led by Carton, despite Carton’s claims to investors he had an inside deal at the arena that also hosted a concession stand bearing his name.

Carton had shared that stand with former WFAN co-host and New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason. On Thursday, Esiason opened his show on WFAN saying “All of us are saddened by the news and we had all held out hope that Craig would somehow find his way out of what he got himself into.”
“There are victims in this case,” Esiason added. “I don’t want to take away in any way, shape or form what they’ve had to deal with the last 14 months. There were people that were asked to go on the stand. Their character was called into question, reputation was called into question on behalf of those folks, I hope this gives them closure.”
That includes Yormark who testified last week that he had discussed ticketing deals with Carton in the past but none of them had materialized. He said an agreement with his signature, presented to Brigade Capital. had been forged by Carton, and Yormark testified about his reaction when prosecutors first approached him with the document.
“I was very angry,” said Yormark. “I never authorized it.”
The fake deal showed the WFAN shock jock had the rights to buy packages of tickets worth up to $2 million for a 2017 Barbra Streisand concert.
“It’s a facsimile of a signature,” Yormark said while testifying on the stand.
A second Nets and Barclays Center executive, former chief of staff Fred Mangione, backed up Yormark, saying an email from him had been altered to show that ticket sales to Barbra Streisand and Metallica events had been finalized when they had not.
Mangione said talks on the ticket arrangement began in 2016. Mangione conceded that Carton had talked with Yormark regarding a deal to buy more than $10 million in tickets for concerts, but the deal was never done.
Mangione did admit during cross-examination, that Carton had preferred access to buy some tickets for years, but he insisted there was never an official agreement.
“I told him it would be event by event on multiple occasions,” he told jurors, also verifying that Carton and Meli had a deal in place at one point to present events at the Barclays Center on dark nights, but no events ever materialized and the pair were found to be unreliable.
Mangione, who now works for the Jets, said he had trusted Carton but felt his trust had been violated.
Carton never took the stand in his own defense, a decision that must have been difficult for the radio host who was paid a million dollars a year to provide color commentary for the sport-crazy Tri-State area.
“Unless Carton’s cockiness was all shtick, I have to believe Carton thought he could convince a jury of his innocence,” sports commentator Bob Raissman wrote in a blistering column for the NY Daily News. “Carton has a track record of using his “gift” to insult and make listeners laugh. He also used it to often get himself out of trouble, or what is considered as trouble on the radio. Yet when he needed it most, Carton showed up at a machete fight wielding a Q-Tip.”
NY Post writer Andrew Marchand was a bit more somber, writing today “He lived in excess with an alleged gambling problem and a wayward view he could fool the world,” adding, “The tragedy of his spiral is full of sadness for his victims, for his family and Carton himself.”