FBI reveals indictments in UH concert scam; guilty plea follows
UH cleared of criminal wrongdoing
"The big question may be what happened to the money," said Vida Bottom, Special Agent in Charge for the Honolulu FBI's office.
The questions, the frustration and the public outcry, over a concert deal gone bad was blown wide open by federal agents on Thursday.
The FBI said it all centers on a man named Marc Hubbard, who is a concert promoter from North Carolina.
He was already indicted in October in another case, where he allegedly scammed victims out of $700,000 to promote an Alica Keys concert.
As for the failed Stevie Wonder concert: "Mr. Hubbard said he had connections with management and Stevie Wonder's inner circle," said U.S. District Attorney Florence Nakakuni.
She said it's a lie that Hubbard told not only UH, but his soon to be associates.
The FBI said he then netted a business contract with UH and a European concert promoter named Helen Williams, as well as 44-year-old Sean Barriero of Epic Talent. That business address turned out to be a mailbox at a strip mall in Florida.
UH eventually wired $200,000 into Barriero's personal account.
FBI agents said that money was quickly dispersed and spent: $120,000 went directly to Hubbard, just over 11-grand went to Willams, and nearly 69-grand went to Barriero.
Agents said Barriero and his girlfriend Sannise Crosby spent the money on everything from rent to a $50,000 Mercedes-Benz SUV.
"No money went to Stevie Wonder or to any other entity to authorize a Stevie Wonder concert," said Nakakuni.
"It appears the defendants spent the money on personal expenses (and) to pay off business debts soon after it arrived in their bank account. By the time the university was aware of the fraud, there was no cash left to recover," said Bottom.
Barreiro's attorney said his client takes responsibility for his role and is prepared to pay the price.
"Mr. Barriero plead guilty to violating a federal law which criminalizes the transportation of misappropriated funds across state lines. This charge comes from Mr. Barreiro's failure to hold UH's money in escrow as required," said Attorney Sean Coutain.
It is a confession taken and a crime exposed, after a scandal that is playing out in record time.
"This is a very complicated case going from a victim’s complaint to federal grand jury indictment in 126 days and that is very, very quick," said Bottom.
Marc Hubbard is in custody in North Carolina. There will be a detention hearing to see, if and when, he will be extradited to Hawaii to face a wire fraud charge.
Barriero faces up to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced next year.
The FBI made it clear they found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of UH, but they said it's unlikely the university will see any of that money, because just about all of it, has already been spent.
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