Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSEPH MELI was sentenced today to 37 months in prison in connection with MELI’s participation in a fraudulent Broadway ticket investment scheme wherein MELI purported to use investor funds to purchase tickets to Broadway shows for resale on the secondary market, but instead misappropriated those funds for his personal use. MELI previously pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Joseph Meli, a recidivist fraudster, spun the web of lies that buttressed this scheme while on pretrial release in a prior theatre ticket investment fraud case in this District. With today’s sentencing, the curtain has come down on Joseph Meli’s act.”
According to the Complaint, the Indictment, and other court documents, as well as statements made in public court proceedings:
Beginning in at least March 2017 through in or about June 2018, MELI falsely represented to partners in a business entity, Indio Entertainment, LLC (“Indio”), that MELI owned a large number of tickets to live events, or intended to purchase a large number of tickets to live events. MELI further falsely represented that he would sell those tickets to Indio in exchange for investor money that Indio had solicited for the purpose of reselling the tickets on the secondary market for profit. MELI, in turn, caused Indio principals to represent to investors that investor funds would be used to purchase bulk tickets to live shows without disclosing MELI’s involvement, and promised investors a share of these profits. In fact, MELI failed to invest the investor monies as promised, and failed to supply Indio with bulk tickets, but rather diverted investor monies to his own personal use, including sending $455,000 to a close relative of MELI’s in part to pay off credit card debt incurred by MELI, $500,000 to an individual completely unrelated to the entertainment or ticket industry, and $220,000 to a residential management company that managed an apartment MELI was leasing.
This was not MELI’s first involvement in such a scheme. MELI is currently serving a 78-month sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood in September 2018, resulting from MELI’s involvement in a similar Broadway ticket investment scheme. Indeed, MELI participated in the present scheme while on pretrial release in the case in front of Judge Wood.
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MELI, 46, of New York, New York, will serve 25 of the 37 months of the prison sentence concurrently with the prison sentence he is already serving. In addition to his prison sentence, MELI was sentenced to three years of supervised release, two years of which will run concurrently with the term of supervised release previously imposed by Judge Wood. MELI was also ordered to pay a forfeiture penalty of $2,082,425 and restitution in the amount of $1,909,146.
Ms. Strauss praised the work of the Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Mortazavi and Micah Fergenson are in charge of the prosecution.