By Evan Bleier / June 19, 2019

Texas Family Pleads Guilty to $500,000 Masters Ticket Scheme

The family pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud

A flag with the Augusta National logo. (David Cannon/Getty)
A flag with the Augusta National logo. (David Cannon/Getty)

After making more than $500,000 from a ticket scheme that tricked Augusta officials and jacked-up ticket prices for Masters fans, four members of a Texas family pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Georgia.

Prosecutors allege Michael Freeman came up with a plan to create fraudulent applications to win Masters tickets via the tournament’s annual lottery and then sell the tickets for big profits. To help him, Stephen enlisted his sister Christine Oliverson and parents Diane Freeman and Steven Freeman.

Over a four-year period, the suspects used names and addresses from a bulk mailing list they had purchased to create fake accounts with the Masters online lottery and win tickets. Those tickets were sold at a net profit of $530,000, according to the FBI. To pull off the scheme, the Freemans and Oliverson were involved in more than four million emails.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors will recommend Michael Freeman be sentenced to three years in prison and have to pay $157,494 in community restitution. As part of the agreement, his parents and sister will receive probation and each of the parents will need to pay $59,000.

However, the judge has yet to agree to any of these terms so it’s possible they could change.

“Because of the defendants’ greed, they now face substantial prison time if convicted of the alleged crimes,” Chris Hacker, the special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said after the family was charged in April.

Conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

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