Fan charged after seeking cheap ticket sues Orioles City also named in $3 million suit for false arrest

September 18, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

To Mark L. Corrallo, half of the fun of going to a Baltimore Orioles game is searching for premium tickets at bargain prices from fans looking to get rid of their extras.

That's how he bought his tickets outside of Memorial Stadium and that's how he picked up four front-row seats for the sold-out game on Mother's Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

"You can get really good seats that way," the 35-year-old attorney from Kensington said. "You can strike gold."

But after being arrested May 22 for "doing business without a license" -- he says he was buying, not selling, and for below face value at that -- Mr. Corrallo doesn't find the ticket hunt to be so much fun.

He's filed a $3 million suit charging the Orioles, the Maryland Stadium Authority, a city police officer and the city with malicious prosecution.

Mr. Corrallo said he's made a habit of bypassing the box office in a quest for good seats while attending about 10 to 15 Orioles games a year since the mid 1970s.

On May 22, after attending at least six games at the new ballpark, he and a friend added a new wrinkle to their approach: Instead of walking around repeating, "Need two," they scrawled their request on a small sign.

But that sign caught the eye of an Orioles usher stationed near the south end of the Eutaw Street promenade, according to Mr. Corrallo, and the usher apparently alerted police officer Jack Lambert.

While Mr. Corrallo inspected two box seat tickets -- with a face value of $13 but offered for $8 apiece -- the officer grabbed the tickets, according to the suit, filed Wednesday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Almost before he could realize what was happening, Mr. Corrallo was being held in the police command post at the stadium. By midnight he was in a holding cell at the police department's Central District, charged under a state law forbidding anyone to conduct business without a required license. He was not charged under the city's scalping law.

Mr. Corrallo, the senior litigation associate for the Gaithersburg law firm of Conroy, Ballman & Dameron, found himself in a fetid jail cell.

"I was just another one of 25 guys over there that night who hadn't done anything wrong," he said. "But I hadn't done anything wrong. That was really frustrating."

He says he spent 16 hours behind bars before he was released on his own recognizance to await trial.

On July 7, the charge was dismissed when the police officer and the usher failed to show for trial in district court, Mr. Corrallo said.

After talks with the Orioles failed to produce a satisfactory settlement, Mr. Corrallo filed his 10-count suit alleging false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Attempts to reach Officer Lambert for comment were unsuccessful.

Although Baltimore Orioles Inc., is named as a defendant in the suit, Rick Vaughn, team spokesman, said last night, "We feel that it is a matter that involves the City of Baltimore police and therefore just don't feel it is appropriate to comment."

Mr. Vaughn could not provide figures on how many scalping arrests have been made this season, but he said, "We've been making a concerted effort to abolish it."

He has said uniformed police and plainclothes men patrol the stadium on game days hoping to catch scalpers.

Baltimore is the only jurisdiction in the state that prohibits ticket scalping -- a condition which has given rise to ticket broker

agencies in other areas of the state and in Washington which have sold tickets for up to $85 apiece.

Mr. Corrallo says he does not do business with scalpers because can usually find tickets for below cost. He added, "I don't want to condone that activity. It's just too sleazy. I'd rather just buy from the regular guy who's got a couple extra tickets."

A huge fan of the team and its new stadium, he says he's been to a couple of games since his arrest, including Wednesday night's shut-out win over the Kansas City Royals. But these days he only goes when he has tickets in hand.

"The whole thing took a lot of the joy out of going out there," he said.

"I'd love to go next week. I don't have any tickets. What am I going to do?"

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