A pair of twin brothers has been sentenced for swindling sports fans who paid for out-of-town sporting events, and the pair once played a similar scheme on nearly 200 junior-high aged children in the early 1990s, according to court documents.
U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced Friday that Anthony "Tony" Casias and Leopold Casias, both from Chicago, were sentenced to years behind bars after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for scamming unsuspecting sports fans using their company, L & T Sports Events, Inc.
According to prosecutors in the case, Anthony and Leopold Casias' scheme comprised of having sports fans pay L & T Sports Events, Inc up front for tickets, transportation, flights, and hotels for out-of-town sporting events.
However, once the fans arrived at their destination, they found they had no tickets or hotel.
To make matters worse, the fans were stranded because the Casias brothers had only purchased one-way tickets.
Instead of booking what their clients paid for, in most cases, the brothers ended up spending the money on themselves.
The brother’s scheme knew no bounds as even their mother’s rosary group was swindled, according to a comment made by the judge in the case.
Court documents outline nightmare after nightmare experienced by customers who paid in advance for sporting events only to later find they had been scammed.
In one case in November 2011, just over a dozen fans purchased game tickets, flights, and hotels from the Casias brothers to watch the San Diego Chargers play against Chicago Bears in Chicago. Once the fans arrived in Chicago, they found the brothers had paid for a one-way flight, but little else.
In the end, some of the fans ended up finding a hotel and getting into the game after buying tickets from local ticket brokers.
Court documents detail another set of the Casias’ victims, a father and son, who were stranded in the Bay Area on New Year’s Eve 2011 after they paid in advance to watch the Chargers play the Oakland Raiders.
In this case, the father and son – again left with no game tickets, hotel room, or flight home – ended up having to make the hours-long drive back to San Diego and watched the game on television.
Court documents show the brother's victims were located in several states, including in California, South Dakota, Philadelphia, and Colorado.
The brothers also arranged trips to the annual NFL game in London, England, with which they offered special extensions to Paris and Rome, according to court documents.
Again, sports fans who paid for the trips found themselves stranded, this time overseas, having received nothing more than a one-way flight for what they paid.
While overseas, at least four clients were further scammed by the Casias brothers who used their client’s credit cards to pay for other client’s trips and also the brother’s phone bills and car payments.
The brother’s even went so far as to use the credits cards to pay their own delinquent Chargers season tickets, according to sentencing documents.
Judge John A. Houston sentenced Anthony Casias 36 months in prison and Leopold Casias to 33 months.
“This was not a sophisticated scheme. This was an old fashioned, salt of the earth swindle,” Judge Houston said in court. “You were heartless. You just didn't care."
Both men were also sentenced to three years of supervised release.
According to U.S. Attorney Duffy, this isn’t the first time the brothers have been convicted for scamming.
Public records show the pair was convicted in the early 1990s after they stranded 193 middle school students in Washington D.C. for what was supposed to be an educational trip.
At the time, the brothers were reportedly offering educational trips to the east coast.
Organizers of the student trip raised over $270,000 from parents, students, school officials, and events to fund the trip. Records showed that when they paid the money to the Casias brothers, the pair ended up using the money to fund other trips instead.
A parent chaperon said the Casias brothers callously joined the children and their group at the airport to see them off, fully aware the kids would arrive thousands of miles away in Washington D.C. to find no hotel rooms, transportation, or a way home.
The parent said the students ended up having to stay on cots in military barracks after they found out they had been scammed.
The Casias brothers will appear in court again on Feb. 8 for a hearing to determine the amount of restitution they owe to the victims of the sporting event scams.