First of KU Ticket Scammers Sentenced Gets 37 Months

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Kassie Liebsch, the former University of Kansas ticket office manager who got caught up in a five-year plot to scam the school's athletic department out of millions of dollars in basketball and football tickets, was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in prison after pleading guilty in January to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition, Liebsch must pay all or part of nearly $1.3 million in restitution to Kansas Athletics Inc. and nearly $80,000 in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

Liebsch, 28, and four former colleagues - Rodney Jones, Ben Kirtland and Charlette and Thomas Blubaugh - also are subject to a joint $2 million monetary judgment, which allows the federal government to purse their finances and other assets to pay restitution, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. Liebsch is the first of the five to be sentenced. Jones, a former assistant athletics director, is scheduled to be sentenced today.

Jones began giving cash to Liebsch, a systems analyst who later ascended to ticket manager, in 2005, and Liebsch considered it merely the act of a generous boss. "I kept taking the money," she said in a tearful statement before U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown. "I am embarrassed and disappointed in myself that I gave in so easily."

Brown concluded that Liebsch had received $229,271 from the scheme, which sold more than 17,000 basketball and more than 2,000 football tickets to ticket brokers and others, with the proceeds pocketed by the coconspirators.

Kansas Athletics officials have declined comment, pending the sentencing of the remaining four, all of whom have pleaded guilty.

UPDATE: Jones today received a sentence of 46 months in prison.

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