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Published: Thursday, 9/28/2006

Fostoria man guilty in football ticket swindle

BLADE STAFF

BOWLING GREEN A Fostoria man charged with swindling people out of money paid for tickets to Ohio State-Michigan football game last November was found guilty tonight in Wood County Common Pleas Court.

Mark West, 54, was found guilty of theft and telecommunications fraud following a three-day trial. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning the guilty verdict.

West faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine on each count.

Hundreds of people complained to Fostoria police and the Ohio Attorney General s office that they paid West for tickets for the Nov. 19 game, but never received them.

West disappeared Nov. 15, and was arrested in January at a bar in Florida.

This morning, West spent more than three hours on the witness defending himself against. He told the court that while he filled all the orders for last year's Texas game, he couldn t do the same for the Michigan game.

He insisted his first obligation was to refund his customers money, and he said he headed to Daytona Beach both to get and sell tickets for the upcoming Daytona 500 and to escape death threats he had received from angry customers.

I needed to make this thing right not only for me. I have a family. I have kids. I have grandkids. I have a wife. My wife s precious to me, he told the jury.

Yesterday, Teresa West testified that she was taken completely by surprise when allegations surfaced last November that her husband had swindled hundreds of people out of football tickets.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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