2 ex-White Sox ticket sellers plead guilty in ticket-selling scheme

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Two former Chicago White Sox ticket sellers have pleaded guilty to federal charges for their roles in a scheme where thousands of tickets to the team’s games were fraudulently sold.

James Costello, 67, and William O’Neil, 51, each admitted their crimes during Tuesday hearings in federal court held by videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic. Costello pleaded guilty to wire fraud, and O’Neil admitted he lied to the FBI, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

A third defendant, ticket broker Bruce Lee, still faces 11 counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Costello and O’Neil’s plea agreements anticipate the men will cooperate with prosecutors and that their sentencing hearings will be delayed until their cooperation is complete.

An indictment made public in January alleged that Lee made $868,369 by fraudulently selling 34,876 tickets during the 2016 through 2019 baseball seasons. It alleges that Costello and O’Neil generated thousands of complimentary and discount tickets — without required vouchers — and gave them to Lee in exchange for cash.

Costello allegedly used other employees’ ID codes to avoid detection as he accessed White Sox Ticketmaster computers, and eventually recruited O’Neil to help with the scheme, prosecutors said.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said Costello collected more than $100,000 from Lee. He said O’Neil lied to FBI agents investigating the scam in March 2019, telling them he’d never given tickets to Lee without the knowledge and consent of the White Sox.