Former Phoenix Suns ticket manager Jeffrey Marcussen pleads guilty to illegal ticketing

A former Phoenix Suns ticket manager has pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court to stealing and pledging tickets to NBA matches in Phoenix between 2017 and 2019 and embezzling nearly half a million dollars along the way.

Jeffrey Allan Marcussen, who filed a modification of the plea in court on April 8, ran his plan on the third-party online ticket marketplace StubHub, which launched in San Francisco in 2000, according to court records.

The defendant “deliberately took control of property belonging to the NBA Phoenix Suns with the intent to deprive Suns of game tickets,” according to the indictment filed by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Marcussen admitted in court that he stole nearly 3,000 tickets for Suns games and listed them for sale across a variety of accounts on the StubHub mobile app.

It raised red flags because NBA rules prohibit teams, including the Suns, from selling tickets on third-party platforms.

“StubHub contacted the NBA when it discovered five different StubHub accounts, all linked to the defendant,” prosecutors claimed in court documents in November 2020. “Following an internal audit by the Phoenix Suns organization, which included a confession from the defendant, the law enforcement investigated the case. The investigation revealed and bank records confirmed that the defendant received a total payment from StubHub of $ 458,218. ”

Legal protocols cited a company-wide email in June 2019 informing Suns employees that Marcussen was no longer employed by the team. But at the time, the stated causes were hazy.

More than a year later, in September 2020, state prosecutors filed four charges against the 44-year-old Cave Creek resident.

Marcussen, who served as The Suns’ ticket manager for 15 years, pleaded guilty to one felony, each for theft and fraud in a lawsuit.

These conditions usually have a maximum penalty of 13 years according to the agreement.

If Marcussen had been convicted after a trial, he could have been sentenced to more than two decades in prison.

State prosecutor Shawn Steinberg agreed to drop two charges of filing false tax returns as part of the appeal agreement and asks Marcussen to be sentenced to probation and one year in prison.

“Prison conditions are an option, but so is prison,” Arizona Attorney General’s Office spokesman Ryan Anderson said New Times.

Marcussen was secured conditional imprisonment on the charge of fraud, but even under the terms of the agreement, he could still risk up to three years in state jail for the charge of theft, Anderson said.

The former ticket manager will be convicted on June 7.

According to court documents, Marcussen will also have to pay $ 11,818 to the Arizona Department of Revenue and $ 1,780 to the Attorney General’s Revolutionary Fund to Combat Violence, which bankrolls prevention programs, drug prevention programs, and programs that provide assistance to victims of crime.

That’s on top of the $ 458,218 he repaid to the Suns, the total amount he veiled over two seasons.

“It is my understanding that the defendant has paid the refund to the Suns,” Anderson said.

click to enlarge Suns fans are waiting outside the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix.  - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

Suns fans are waiting outside the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix.

Benjamin Leatherman

During the 2017-18 and 2018-19 NBA seasons, the Suns put about 820,000 tickets up for sale following season ticket awards. Two-thirds of the approximately 18,000 seats at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix are earmarked for season ticket holders, leaving 5,000 seats for sale at each of 82 regular-season games.

Marcussen was able to skim an average of 18 tickets for each match during the two seasons.

The Suns finished last in the Western Conference in both seasons, so the team played no off-season matches.

Since the 2018-19 campaign, Sun’s luck has changed. That was when the franchise made hometown hero Deandre Ayton the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Ayton played the 2017-18 season for the Arizona Wildcats and averaged 17.2 points per game. for the Suns in the regular season 2021-22 at the center.

Phoenix’s first professional sports club played its third NBA Finals last year and looks set to return in May after All-Star shooter Devin Booker returns to the active lineup after a hamstring injury.

The stage is set in Phoenix for a returning playoff game against the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night in a series in the first round with two games each. Fans are ready for #RallyTheValley.

The team is looking to come back from a 118-103 loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans Sunday night.

Following that match, head coach Monty Williams, who was named NBA Coach of the Year on April 12, was fined $ 15,000 to publicly criticize the judges in that fight.

At least Williams is not in jail.

In a statement, Marcussen’s attorney, Mark Kokanovich, said, “Jeff worked for the Phoenix Suns for nearly 20 years. After the cold-blooded tragic murder of his brother near the end of Jeff’s career at the Suns, Jeff began selling tickets without team approval. Jeff admitted the sale and reimbursed the team while working with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. “

Marcussen’s brother, Thomas, was killed at a sports bar near 16th Street and Bethany Home Road in 2014.

Marcussen could not be immediately reached for comment.

The case, which involves Marcussen, is not linked to a parallel NBA investigation into Suns and majority owner Robert Sarver, who are facing charges from former employees of racism and misogyny.

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