NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — WFAN sports radio talk show host Craig Carton has been arrested on conspiracy and securities fraud charges in an alleged ticket-selling scam to pay off millions of dollars in gambling debts, authorities said.
He has also been suspended from WFAN.
The 48-year-old “Boomer & Carton” co-host was taken into custody by the FBI at his Tribeca apartment around 4 a.m. Wednesday.
Carton hid under a hooded sweatshirt and had nothing to say as he left federal court Wednesday afternoon. His silence a far cry from the personality heard on New York’s airwaves, where he became a household name in sports radio after teaming up with former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason.
In a civil complaint filed today with the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission claims Carton sought investments in ticket reselling enterprises.
According to the SEC complaint, beginning in or around the middle of 2016, Carton accrued millions of dollars’ worth of gambling-related debts to casinos and other third parties.
He allegedly solicited investments in ticket reselling enterprises purportedly engaged in purchasing and reselling large blocks of concert tickets for substantial profits, either on his own or through Joseph Meli, attributed as a New York-based businessman.
The civil complaint states the pair presented “millions of dollars’ worth of tickets to upcoming concerts by the artists 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.”
“In certain cases, Meli provided these fake agreements to Carton, for the express purpose of having Carton pass them along to an investor,” the complaint states. “Carton provided to another investor documents referencing a purported agreement by an entity controlled by Meli to purchase millions of dollars’ worth of Adele concert tickets at face value, directly from Adele’s management company.”
The complaint alleges that together Meli and Carton stole $3.6 million. Carton alone is accused of stealing $2 million from a single investor.
Carton, in his 10th year hosting mornings on WFAN with Esiason, was arrested along with another business associate — Michael Wright.
The former NFL MVP addressed his co-host’s absence and the arrest during Wednesday’s broadcast saying, “I’m taken aback and surprised by it just like I’m sure everybody else is. I have no other information, there’s nothing else I can say. I thought he called in sick this morning, but unfortunately my partner was arrested.”
CBS Radio, which owns WFAN, issued a statement saying, “We are aware of the situation and are cooperating with authorities.”
CBS Radio later added: “Craig Carton has been suspended from WFAN pending our investigation. Phil Simms will co-host the station’s morning show alongside Boomer Esiason tomorrow, Thursday, September 7. We will announce future co-hosts as needed.”
CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Carton appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and was released on a signature bond, but must also put up a $500,000 personal recognizance bond and hand in his passport by September 15th.
Carton is due back in court on October 6th.
CBS Radio is also the parent company of 1010 WINS and WCBS 880.