In the latest action in its years-long investigation into ticket scalping, New York State Attorney General Dennis Vacco's office issued, on Sept. 25, subpoenas for Broadway's Roundabout Theatre Company. Vacco spokesman David Corvette confirmed a Sept. 28 Variety report that the subpoenas were for Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes, general manager Ellen Richard, and Kit Kat Klub lease holder Matt Johnson. The investigation centers around allegations that the not-for-profit powerhouse used tickets to pay part of its rent at the Kit Kit Klub.
Corvette told PBOL (Sept. 28) one of the subpoenas had been successfully served, though he would not say to whom. He noted that the subpoenas petitioned both papers and personal testimony. Corvette also added that, since the issuance of the subpoenas, the Roundabout has voluntarily handed over further documentation.
"We deny emphatically these allegations," Marc Gottlieb, co-counsel for the Roundabout at the law offices of Backman, Millman and Sanders, told Variety. Gottlieb could not be reached for further comment. Roundabout's Richard disavowed any knowledge of a tickets-for-rent plan.
The ticket investigation recently pierced the Broadway community. Earlier this month, Vacco levied a $25,000 judgement against the Shubert Organization. The theatre owning giant was cited for failure to register a list of its ticket sellers.
The registration law has been on the books since 1965. "Ticket distributor registration enables us to know which ticket sellers are working in what venues, and to keep track of them if they switch jobs to another box office," said Vacco in a statement. David Corvette, a spokesman for Vacco's office, said registration lists must include all people who "have a controlling access" to tickets, such as box office employees, supervisors and managers. The Shuberts did not file lists of their box office employees from Oct. 23, 1995 to Apr. 7, 1997, according to Vacco.
Corvette said on Sept. 28 that the office has looked into further registration violations, and intimated that additional theatre owners might receive fines in the near future.
The Shuberts have agreed to pay the $25,000 fine. In a statement, the organization said "On Sept. 8, 1999, the Shubert Organization entered into an agreement of voluntary compliance with the New York State Attorney General and resolved issues resulting from the late or non-filing of ticket distribution forms identifying ticket selling personnel and changes of such personal and agreed to pay cost of $25,000.
"Promptly upon learning of the unintentional omissions, Shubert made the required filing and in the settlement confirmed its agreement in the future to make timely filings consistent with Shubert's commitment to strictly complying to all laws and regulations applicable to theatre operations and ticket vendors."
The New York State Attorney General's investigation into alleged corruption in the sale of tickets to sports, concert events and theatre is expected conclude sometime this fall, possibly within two months, said Corvette. The State is looking into box office scams, in particular a form of abuse called "ice," in which box office personnel sell tickets to scalpers at exorbitant prices. Those jacked-up fees are then shouldered by the public.
The New York Times reported that Joseph Nekola, former manager of the Jones Beach Theater, a concert venue, pleaded guilty to stealing more than 8,000 tickets; and the owners of Tickets on Request, a Manhattan-based company, were charged with hiking prices on tickets to sporting events and concerts. The U.S. Open was hit with a $40,000 fine for failing to register its lists of ticket sellers.
-- By Robert Simonson