A former United States Golf Association (USGA) employee has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for embezzling more than $3.3m (£2.7m/€3.2m) worth of US Open tickets.

The announcement was made by US Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams and the US Department of Justice.

Former USGA employee, Robert Fryer, was sentenced by United States District Judge Michael M. Baylson to 14 months in prison, three years of supervised release and was also ordered to pay $3,364,622 in restitution to the USGA, and to forfeit the $1,150,000 profits he amassed.

In October last year, Fryer pleaded guilty and admitted that he sold the tickets for roughly $1.2m to two different ticket brokers in the Philadelphia area, Eagle Eye Ticketing Management owner Jeremi Michael Conaway and Sherry’s Theater Ticket Agency owner James Bell.

Fryer had been exploiting a weakness in the USGA’s ticket tracking protocol to steal tickets for the US Open, after he discovered the flaw in 2013 while working on the US Open at the Merion Golf Club.

Fryer admitted to stealing thousands of US Open tickets for the US Open at Merion and then selling the stolen tickets to Conaway, who worked for a different brokerage at the time. For each subsequent US Open through 2019, Fryer continued to steal and sell tickets to Conaway.

In connection with the 2017 US Open, Fryer sold stolen US Open tickets to Bell, who operated another local area ticket brokerage. The stolen tickets amounted to a cost of more than $3m and Fryer made $1.2m in profit, while Conaway and Bell sold the tickets for their own profit.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S.Lowe.

US Attorney Williams said: “This defendant stole revenue from an American institution and legitimate business that pays taxes, employs many, supports a non-profit organization, and brings excitement and income to our district with US Open events at courses like the Merion Golf Club.

“Criminals that conduct ticket schemes like this prey on the excitement surrounding big events; fans should remember that any item with a low price that seems ‘too good to be true’ should be cause for caution and concern.”

Image: mk. s on Unsplash