Fake tickets sold for total of $2,800
HOUSTON -- Their team was a winner, but New England Patriots fans Paul Broft and Brendan Gibbins had become big financial losers by the time they prepared to return home this week.
Then, as they awaited their flight to Boston on Monday afternoon at Bush Intercontinental Airport, their luck seemed to change.
They recognized two men waiting for the same plane as the ones they said sold them a pair of Super Bowl tickets for $2,800 the previous day. The tickets, they found out when they tried to enter the stadium, were no good.
Broft, 27, and Gibbins, 28, called police.
"They said, 'That's the dude who sold the tickets to us,'" said Houston attorney Bill Stradley, who represents one of the men charged in the scam.
Bruce Smith, 33, of Providence, R.I, and Steven Ross, 31, of Boston were charged with theft, punishable by up to two years in state jail. Each was released on $2,000 bail, their attorneys said Wednesday.
Broft and Gibbins came to Houston hoping to find Super Bowl tickets. They paid $1,400 each Sunday for two scalped tickets for the game between the Patriots and Carolina Panthers. After being questioned about how they came up with counterfeit tickets, they left dejected.
Stradley said his client, Smith, a high school wrestling coach, bought the tickets Sunday and sold them shortly afterward.
"He is not a professional forger," Stradley said in Thursday editions of the Houston Chronicle. "He got the tickets from somebody else, who scalped them from somebody else."
Ross' attorney, Jerry Patchen, said his client -- a bank vice president -- had nothing to do with the transaction. He acknowledged Ross was traveling with Smith, but said they were not together Sunday afternoon.
"He was in the Super Bowl watching the game with an honest ticket," Patchen said.
Smith and Ross returned to Boston on Wednesday. They were scheduled to be back in Houston on Feb. 20 for a court appearance.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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