Counterfeit tickets lead to arrest of nine Police investigating organized operation

October 05, 1997|By Ivan Penn and Roch Kubatko | Ivan Penn and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Brenda J. Buote contributed to this article.

Baltimore Police arrested nine men yesterday in connection with a suspected counterfeit ticket operation that was selling fake Orioles tickets for $100 to fans outside the stadium.

The men were charged with ticket scalping and were being held at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Facility as of late yesterday. Officers collected 55 counterfeit tickets during the arrests but did not recover any money, police said.

Yesterday morning, the Orioles closed their scalp-free zone -- the area around the stadium where fans were allowed to sell their unused tickets during the regular season -- after a man was arrested Friday on charges that he tried to sell counterfeit game tickets.

Orioles officials said they were concerned that fans might be duped by the counterfeit-ticket salespeople.

"The scalp-free zone was designed for fans during the regular season who had last-minute circumstances that came up where they couldn't use tickets," said Joe Foss, Orioles vice president. "For postseason games, it's our expectation that fans who have extra tickets would be selling them or making them available to family and friends, and there wouldn't be a need for the scalp-free zone."

Foss said the scalp-free zone likely would remain closed throughout postseason play.

The scalp-free zone remained in operation during last year's Division Series and ALCS, and Foss said a family unknowingly bought some stolen tickets there.

"We don't have the manpower, a system in place, to be able to check and recheck 49,000 tickets," he said.

Closing of the scalp-free zone angered some fans who were trying to get last-minute tickets.

"The Orioles have slapped the fans in the face by closing the no-scalping zone," said Karl O. Gilbert of Catonsville, a partial-plan season-ticket holder.

Dozens of fans still were seeking tickets outside the stadium, including four people from Atlanta who took a morning flight to Baltimore to watch the Orioles.

"I'm a Braves fan, but we wanted to see Baltimore play," said Mary Rogers, who was in front of the stadium holding up four fingers and asking for tickets.

But city police and Orioles officials maintain that those seeking tickets should beware.

"We're seeing a lot of people around the park with literally stacks of tickets," said John Maroon, Orioles director of public relations. "We certainly don't want any counterfeit tickets. And the last thing we're going to do is help them sell them."

The tickets confiscated yesterday were on paper that is heavier than normal tickets and the ink rubbed off easy, said Lt. Edward C. Glacken. Each ticket had a $20 face value, he said.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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