2 indicted in Wonder concert fraud probe
Court documents reveal other co-conspirators
A federal grand jury in Honolulu indicted Marc Hubbard, 44, of North Carolina with wire fraud in connection with a Stevie Wonder concert to benefit the University of Hawaii in August 2012, according to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday.
Click here for the full indictment.
The grand jury also charged Sean Barriero, 44, of Miami with a related offense of transporting $200,000 taken by fraud.
"The Honolulu FBI was contacted by the University of Hawaii on July 11, 2012 regarding what appeared to be a fraud involving the August 18th Stevie Wonder concert," said Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Vida Bottom. "The FBI followed logical investigative leads with the goal of tracing the missing money and collecting evidence to support criminal charges.”
According to the indictment, Hubbard told Barriero that he had relationships inside Stevie Wonder's management to book the UH concert and that he was dealing with a close associate of Stevie Wonder who had approved the dates of the concert.
As a result of communications with intermediaries in contact with Barriero, in June 2012, UH wire transferred $200,000 to one of Barriero's accounts in Florida -- $120,000 of which Barriero disbursed to Hubbard, according to court documents. The FBI says most of the $200,000 UH sent to Hubbard and Barriero, for what they thought was an Aug. 18 fundraising concert for UH Athletics, is essentially gone.
The FBI believes the two spent the money to pay of debts and for other personal expenses, and that Barreiro also purchased a black Mercedes sports utility vehicle that is now in their possession. It is possible a small amount of that expense will be recovered.
A Hawaii investor previously had transferred $50,000 to Barriero in May 2012 to secure the concert -- $27,500 of which was transferred to Hubbard.
The indictment further alleges that in July 2012, an authorized agent for Stevie Wonder reported that neither he nor his management had any knowledge of the concert. None of the $250,000 was transmitted to Stevie Wonder or his management.
"... I am comfortable saying that the FBI found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing at the University of Hawaii pertaining to the Stevie Wonder concert."
- Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Vida Bottom
"A lot of the public interest and coverage in this case focused on what went wrong at the University of Hawaii. From day one, we regarded the University as an institutional crime victim and focused our investigation on the suspects who received the money," said Bottom. "Understanding that, I am comfortable saying that the FBI found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing at the University of Hawaii pertaining to the Stevie Wonder concert. In fact, the university officials we spoke to during this investigation were open, honest, and available to us – without precondition – throughout our investigation.”
The FBI says their investigation is ongoing and would not comment on other possible charges, but in court documents, the agency says there were other co-conspirators: a European concert promoter named Helen Williams, and Sannise Crosby, who is reportedly in a relationship with Bareirro. KITV contacted Crosby, who would not comment on the case.
Hubbard turned himself in to authorities in Charlotte, N.C. Thursday. He is being held in federal custody awaiting his detention hearing on Tuesday.
Barriero pleaded guilty to the illegal interstate transfer of funds charge Thursday afternoon, which is a felony.
If convicted, Hubbard faces up to 20 years in prison. Barriero faces up to 10 years in prison.
Statement from the University of Hawaii:
The University of Hawai’i welcomes the announcement today by the United States Attorney and the FBI that two individuals have been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with what the university believes was fraud perpetrated upon it in connection with the failed Stevie Wonder concert. The university expresses its sincere thanks to the United States Attorney and the FBI for their diligence in this matter.
While the university has been kept informed of certain developments in the case, there is much university officials have not been able to say, and still cannot say, so as not to interfere with the criminal investigation and pending prosecution.
As the United States Attorney and the FBI have stated, since the university reported this matter directly to the bureau in early July, the university and its officials have fully cooperated with the investigation.
President MRC Greenwood stated, "I thank the United States Attorney and the FBI for their diligence in this matter. We at the university have fully cooperated in this investigation, and we look forward to the criminal justice system proceeding to prosecute those charged. The U.S. Attorney and the FBI have now confirmed that the university was the victim of a white-collar crime’. We trust that this will help the university move past the failed concert episode and move forward with its many important missions."
UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple said, "I echo President Greenwood's comments and add that I am glad that the United States Attorney and the FBI have today confirmed that no UH employees were a part of what we believe to have been a crime. We look forward to refocusing our efforts and energies into fulfilling our land grant mission and helping Hawai’i."
"We’re grateful the indictment has been brought, we hope we receive some measure of restitution," concluded Greenwood.
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