Hamilton, Super Bowl Tix Fraudster Guilty in $60M Ponzi Scheme

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By Jennifer Bennett

There’s a million things he hasn’t done, but wire fraud isn’t one of them: Jason Nissen pleaded guilty to a $60 million Ponzi scheme he said resold tickets to the musical “Hamilton,” the U.S. Open, and the Super Bowl.

Nissen, a former math teacher based in New York, pleaded guilty March 26 to wire fraud in connection with the scheme, according to a plea agreement Bloomberg Law obtained from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Nissen operated a ticket resale company and told investors his company would use their money for bulk purchases of easily resold high-value tickets for Broadway plays and premium sporting events, according to the plea agreement. Instead, he used the money to repay earlier investors while using false financial documents to pacify other investors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“From the moment Mr. Nissen voluntarily brought his misconduct to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he has acted diligently to help the Trustee to recoup the loans in issue,” Michael F. Bachner, Nissen’s New York-based attorney, told Bloomberg Law. Nissen’s cooperation isn’t specifically referenced in the plea agreement.

“Mr. Nissen did not benefit personally from any of his actions, and is utterly remorseful for any harm he caused,” Bachner said. Nissen transferred several million in investor funds to his personal bank account in April 2017, most of which was then transferred to earlier investors, according to a May 2017 complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Nissen initially revealed the scheme to several potential investors in May 2017, according to the complaint. The investors recorded the meeting — and Nissen’s admissions — without Nissen’s knowledge, according to the complaint.

“You were running a Ponzi scheme,” one of the investors said on the recording.

“I guess you want to call it ... I was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul,” Nissen responded.

“Yeah. That’s the definition of a Ponzi,” the investor replied.

Nissen is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

The case is US v. Nissen , S.D.N.Y., No. 1:17-cr-00477, plea agreement entered 3/26/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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