There is so very much to unpack in the truly wonderful Craig Carton case. There is the question of how a hot-air balloon full of terrible takes managed to convince an allegedly well-run hedge fund to loan him $4.6 million. How they expected to make a profit on $1 million worth of Streisand tickets on a credit card. How anyone could have thought Craig Carton was smart enough to scalp a few box seats to a mid-week Yankees game, let alone run a major ticket reselling operation. Whether Craig Carton has even heard of Hamilton. Or Alexander Hamilton, for that matter.
What is not in question is that at the center of the case are several million dollars in gambling debts that Carton amassed, against which the proceeds of the Ponzi scheme are alleged to have been planned. Carton’s lawyers acknowledge the debts in what they hoped would be a double-secret slam-dunk defense at trial. But here’s the twist: Prosecutors have completely jumbled up Carton’s two totally legitimate side businesses to his weekday morning yammering, which is to say a completely above-board ticket reselling operation, and a previously undisclosed enterprise in which rich people invested in Carton’s amazing abilities at the poker tables and slot machines of Atlantic City and Bethlehem, Pa., whose investors were merely the victim of some highly irregular bad luck for the otherwise-unbeatable card sharp.
“In addition to his career as a radio broadcaster and his ticket resale business, Mr. Carton gambled prolifically,” they said. “ . . . Mr. Carton sought loans and investors to fund the gambling operation. In some instances, Mr. Carton gambled on behalf of others, persons who invested large sums of money with him based on his gambling prowess….”
Carton has said he was running a legitimate ticket resale business and was duped by Meli. Defense lawyers on Thursday declined to explain how their description of Carton’s gambling activities would fit into his defense at trial.