Former White Sox ticket sellers get probation after helping feds nab scamming broker
One ex-ticket seller told the judge he loves the Sox and has “deep regret for betraying” the team’s trust. The other said, “This is going to dog me for the rest of my life. I know that.”
A federal judge gave three years of probation Friday to two former White Sox ticket sellers who helped a prolific ticket broker scam the South Siders over more than three seasons.
The sentencing of James Costello and William O’Neil ended the case involving broker Bruce Lee’s massive ticket scheme, which first came to light in October 2019. The feds say Lee swindled the team out of more than $1 million.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly on Friday sentenced Costello and O’Neil, also telling each to serve 300 hours of community service. Federal prosecutors said the two men gave “substantial assistance” to the investigation.
“But for Jim Costello’s cooperation, the outcome of this case would have been very different and we would not have had a just outcome,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said.
Before he was sentenced, Costello told the judge he loves the Sox and has “deep regret for betraying” the team’s trust. O’Neil also apologized and told the judge, “This is going to dog me for the rest of my life. I know that.”
Earlier this week, the judge sentenced Lee to a year-and-a-half in prison and ordered him to pay $455,229 in forfeiture. The judge set restitution in the case at only $74,650, because the at-issue tickets were discounted and that was “the only number that is supported by evidence.”
Costello and O’Neil each admitted their crimes in August 2020. Costello pleaded guilty to wire fraud and O’Neil admitted he lied to the FBI.
The pair aided Lee in his scam by generating thousands of complimentary and discount tickets — without required vouchers — and giving them to Lee in exchange for cash. Prosecutors accused Lee of then making $868,369 by selling 34,876 fraudulently obtained tickets online during the 2016 through 2019 baseball seasons.
The tickets had a market value of between $1 million and $1.2 million, authorities said.
A jury found Lee guilty last fall of several counts of wire fraud.
The Sox’s data analytics team flagged Lee as a StubHub seller who had “sold more White Sox tickets than anyone else by a substantial margin,” and the team approached the FBI in October 2018. The analytics team thought Lee might have had inside help.
Costello used other employees’ ID codes to avoid detection while generating tickets for Lee, and he eventually recruited O’Neil to help with the scheme.