Former Queens teacher behind $71M ticket scam gets 2 years in prisonSeptember 6, 2019
A Ponzi schemer who admitted to looting over $70 million from clients in an attempt to keep his ticket-selling business afloat was spared major prison time and sentenced to just two years behind bars Friday.
Manhattan federal court Judge Paul Engelmeyer said he felt that Jason Nissen showed true remorse for having bilked investors in Manhattan ticket company NECO.com between 2016 and 2018, when he walked into the US attorney’s office and copped to his crimes.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Nissen faced a minimum of eight years behind bars for the scheme, but Engelmeyer said it was not a judge’s job to be a “slave” to the guidelines.
“You have done all a person can do,” Engelmeyer told the shaking 47-year-old, before handing down the softball sentence of 27 months. “But there’s a price you must pay.”
Prosecutors said Nissen began defrauding investors in order to keep his business — which sold tickets to broadway smash-hit “Hamilton,” the US Open, the Super Bowl and other events — afloat, and at one point even collaborated with shady businessman Jona Rechnitz to draw in investors.
Prosecutors Friday said Nissen repaid Rechnitz by paying off his American Express cards.
During a brief break before he was sentenced, Nissen stood next to his 8-months-pregnant wife, stroking her belly.
The former Queens math teacher pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in March 2018, but his sentencing was delayed for more than a year as prosecutors probed claims he’d hidden funds. They determined he had not done so.
Defense attorney Michael Bachner argued his client deserved leniency, noting that since his arrest he’d worked as an Uber driver, and was now working a 1 a.m.-to-3 p.m. shift loading trucks at Hunts Point in the Bronx.
“I’m scared,” Nissen said as he addressed the judge Friday. “I can say with certainty I’ll never do anything like this again.”
Engelmeyer ruled he could surrender to the US Marshal Service on Nov. 7, following the birth of his third child.
In addition to the time behind bars, Nissen was ordered to pay back $71,878,669.90 to his victims.
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