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American Football: cops arrest scalpers at bucs games, let their families use the seats

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posted on Sep, 22 2004 @ 08:43 PM
Published: Sep 22, 2004

TAMPA - For years, Tampa police officers working a security detail at Raymond James Stadium allowed friends and relatives to attend Buccaneers home games for free, according to an internal report obtained by The Tampa Tribune.
The scheme, in effect from at least 1998 to the beginning of the Bucs' 2002-03 Super Bowl season, relied on ticket- scalping arrests. After confiscating scalped tickets as evidence, officers would allow a friend or relative to sit in the corresponding seats, which would have been left empty.

``It was a practice, and I will say a long-standing practice,'' said Capt. Jill Marks, in an interview with an Internal Affairs investigator in December.

Typically, Marks said, a son or daughter of one of the officers would be escorted into the stadium and to the seats during the first quarter.

Marks began supervising the stadium security detail in 2001 and retired in January. She became the subject of an internal investigation into the ticket giveaways after a former Internal Affairs investigator, Borthland Murray, alerted authorities.

Chief Stephen Hogue ordered Capt. Joan Dias to investigate Murray's allegations last fall. Despite a long investigation that found Marks violated department standards of conduct, and confirmation that the giveaways went on for years, no one was punished. Marks and her boss retired before the investigation ended and others who participated in the giveaways were not investigated.

NFL Complaint Started Probe

Marks told Dias that her major, K.C. Newcomb, was aware of the ticket giveaways, which she said had been going on before she began working on the security detail in 2001. Former Police Chief Bennie Holder learned of the giveaways at the beginning of the 2002 Bucs season, when, Marks said, Dan Grossi, a retired Tampa sergeant working for NFL security, complained to Holder.

Bucs officials and the Tampa Sports Authority, which manages Raymond James Stadium, said they were unaware of the giveaways.

``If this was occurring at our games, we'd be extremely disappointed,'' said Jeff Kamis, a spokesman for the Buccaneers.

``We knew nothing of this,'' said Mickey Farrell, operations director for the sports authority. ``It certainly wasn't condoned by us.''

Holder also was interviewed during the probe, saying he remembered Grossi saying ``the Glazers would be highly, highly upset about this.'' Malcolm Glazer owns the Bucs. Holder then went to Newcomb, head of the security detail, and put a stop to the practice ``sometime in 2003,'' according to his statement. Marks said she thought the giveaways ended at the start of the 2002-03 season.

Holder did not order an investigation of the unauthorized use of scalped tickets.

``What are you going to do? Go back 26 or 30 years, however long the Bucs have been in existence, and investigate all ... that?'' he said in his statement. ``No one was trying to circumvent the system or try to steal anything. ... It was just one of the things, hey, there's nothing wrong - in their eyes, there's nothing wrong with it. They weren't thinking about the perception.''

Newcomb, who retired in April 2003, told the Tribune that he had worked for the Bucs security staff for home games beginning in 1976. In 1998, he took over the police detail. The scalped tickets practice was already in place.

``The tickets were not going to be used,'' Newcomb said, defending the practice. ``The scalpers already paid for the them so the Bucs weren't out of money. It wasn't a larceny. The only one who lost was the guy breaking the law.''

Holder declined to comment for this story. So did Marks, who now lives in Colorado. Murray, who now works as a patrol sergeant, also declined to comment.

Marks headed the Internal Affairs Unit for three years before she retired. Murray worked for her part of that time.

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