Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Mike Ornstein pleads guilty

Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- A marketing agent with ties to the New Orleans Saints has pleaded guilty to conspiring to scalp Super Bowl tickets.

Mike Ornstein faces sentencing Jan. 24 in Cleveland federal court. He also pleaded guilty in June to selling jerseys with the false claim that NFL players had worn them in games.

The case is ongoing, according to Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office.

"They are continuing to investigate," said Tobin, who declined Tuesday to elaborate.

Ornstein admitted buying Super Bowl tickets for more than their face value from people who purchased them at face value from their employers. He then resold the tickets for a profit.

The jerseys came with fraudulent certificates that NFL players had worn the items, according to documents on file in U.S. District Court.

Ornstein is a former marketing agent for Reggie Bush and a frequent presence at Saints practices and games. He became close to coach Sean Payton, who credited Ornstein in his book with helping the team win the Super Bowl.

Sports Business Journal first reported the guilty plea.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said the team had no comment on Ornstein's legal problems.

"They do not involve the New Orleans Saints organization," he wrote in an e-mail. "He is not an employee of the Saints."

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday at the Cleveland office of Ornstein's attorney, Angelo Lonardo.

Ornstein agreed to surrender $350,000 made in the ventures from 1998-2006, including jerseys for the Browns and their home opponents.

Court records say Ornstein has made a $110,000 payment toward the forfeiture order and asked to have his Aug. 30 sentencing delayed so he could sell property to raise the rest. Prosecutors agreed to the delay.

Conspiracy carries a possible 20-year prison term and mail fraud five years. Federal sentencing guidelines take into account numerous factors that might shorten that, including accepting responsibility.

Federal prosecutors haven't decided on a sentence recommendation, Tobin said.