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
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
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
"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.