Joseph Meli, a ticket broker and concert promoter who faced trial after an alleged Ponzi scheme involving the reselling of Hamilton tickets, has accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to securities fraud.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal follows after Meli’s attorney—Daniel Fetterman of Kasowitz Benson Torres—filed a motion to dismiss evidence involved in the case, claiming it had been obtained when a confidential informant pressured Meli to speak without the presence of his legal team, under government direction.
The motion, submitted last week, claims evidence used to suggest his guilt and flight risk was gathered from a conversation between Meli and the informant, his friend Mark Varacchi. This alleged conversation would violate the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct in communicating with an individual with known representation outside the presence of said attorneys, argued Fetterman.
Meli was initially charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and securities fraud, facing a sentence of up to 20 years for the latter. After pleading guilty under the deal, he may see a lighter sentence (78 to 97 months), according to THR. The case was scheduled to receive a trial next year.
Meli—along with Steven Simmons—was charged in January for scamming $81 million from 125 investors. The two were accused of enticing investors with returns from reselling blocks of tickets for Hamilton and other shows and concerts. Producers of Hamilton denied involvement, and with no tickets to resell, the ticket brokers set off a Ponzi scheme to pay off the earlier investors.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision filed a separate civil case against Meli and a business partner, Matthew Harriton. The suit was put on hold as the criminal case against Meli and Simmons advanced.
Days after news of Meli’s arrest broke, another case came to light—this time involving Meli and the forthcoming Broadway transfer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The similar case (in which, again, the production itself was not involved) alleged that Meli, through his company Advance Entertainment, had fraudulently persuaded two investors to front $7.86 million in a block of tickets, under the pretense they would be resold at a profit.
Correction: An earlier version of this article listed Matthew Harriton as a defendant in the criminal case. Harriton was instead charged in a parallel civil suit from the SEC.