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Published: Monday, 1/16/2006

Accused ticket swindler arrested in Florida bar

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Fostoria man wanted for allegedly cheating hundreds of people out of tickets to the Ohio State-Michigan football game was arrested Saturday night at a hotel bar in Daytona Beach, Fla., authorities said.

Mark W. West, 53, is being held in the Volusia County branch jail, awaiting extradition on two felony charges of theft and telecommunications fraud. He was indicted by a Wood County grand jury on Nov. 30.

West had been staying at Sunshine Beach Motel since Nov. 17. His wife, Teresa, reported him missing Nov. 15.

More than 200 people from across the country filed complaints with Fostoria police and the Ohio attorney general s office, accusing West of taking their money for tickets to the Nov. 19 game in Ann Arbor that they didn t receive.

Authorities have pursued him for more than a month, finally finding him in Florida.

Denise Lingenfelter, manager of the motel at 45 South Ocean Ave., said West was a good customer who always paid the $196.48 weekly rent a week in advance and in cash.

Police came to the motel Saturday night and showed a picture of West to the desk clerk.

I looked over and said, Oh yeah, that s Mark, she said. It kind of floored me [Saturday] night when the cops came in asking about him.

I was thinking it might be a mistaken identity.

She gave police the key to his room, and when he wasn t there, the staff suggested he might be down the block at the bar at the Best Western Mayan Inn Beachfront, 103 South Ocean Ave., where he spent a lot of time.

It was there the Daytona Beach police arrested him. Police would not say what led them to search that area.

Both criminal charges against West carry maximum penalties of 18 months in prison and $5,000 fines, if convicted.

The attorney general s office also filed a civil suit against him in Wood County Common Pleas Court that accuses him of committing multiple violations of the state s Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Ms. Lingenfelter said she was surprised when she found out about West s alleged crimes.

The whole time he s been here he s been putting out the word that he could get race tickets, she said.

And some of our staff got them from him.

Lisa Polk of Farmington Hills, Mich., said she couldn t be happier that West was found by police.

She paid $414 on July 24 for a pair of tickets for her and a friend to go to the rivalry game that she never received.

I m thrilled they were able to catch him, she said.

I had a feeling it was a matter of time.

She said the attorney general s office has been in good communication with her throughout the investigation, and she hopes they are able to bring West to justice.

Ms. Polk said she ended up watching the game on TV, but it wasn t very exciting for her after the whole ordeal.

That, and the fact that her team Michigan lost to the Buckeyes, 25-21.

The whole thing was kind of ruined, she said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at: mgilbert@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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