OSU-UM ticket swindler sentenced

Mark West awaits sentencing in Wood County Common Pleas Court. He must make restitution of $162,909 to eBay.
Mark West awaits sentencing in Wood County Common Pleas Court. He must make restitution of $162,909 to eBay.

BOWLING GREEN - Despite his attorney's insistence that Mark West had committed "low-level felonies," the Fostoria man who gained notoriety for selling, but not delivering, tickets to the 2005 Ohio State-Michigan football game was sentenced yesterday to 34 months in prison.

Wood County Common Pleas Alan Mayberry also ordered West to pay $162,909 in restitution to the Internet auction site eBay, which reimbursed some 250 people who paid West for Ohio State-Michigan tickets but didn't get them.

The judge said the victims' losses are likely much higher because many probably had made hotel reservations, airline reservations, and other ar-

rangements in anticipation of being at the football game.

"So this figure is not a total figure, but it's all I have jurisdiction over," the judge said. "And $163,000 is a lot of money."

West, who will receive credit for the 11 months he already has spent in the Wood County jail, was convicted after a jury trial in September of theft and telecommunications fraud, both fourth-degree felonies. He was arrested in January in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he had fled in November, 2005, when angry customers began calling and knocking on his door in Fostoria.

At his trial, West took the stand and claimed he didn't intend to defraud anyone but had simply oversold the game tickets he planned to buy from students, alumni, and ticket brokers, and on eBay. He claimed ticket prices were unusually inflated for the game and that he was still trying to recover from an $85,000 loss he took selling tickets to a previous Ohio State game.

Judge Mayberry said it made no sense that West would leave his wife at home alone and flee to Florida if his irate customers had been threatening him. He said the fact that West left without telling her where he was going made it appear he was "not just a bad businessman but a conspiratorial criminal in planning to do this."

Paul Dobson, an assistant Wood County prosecutor, said West had taken customers' money, spent it on personal whims, and never felt he'd done anything wrong.

"This defendant is unrepentant for what he's done. He is unrepentant for what he did to those people. He's unrepentant for what he did to his wife," Mr. Dobson said in recommending that West be sent to prison for 2 1/2 years.

The maximum penalty for each charge was 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

West, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and hooded sweatshirt, told the judge he intended to pay restitution even before he was ordered to.

"I apologize to my wife. I apologize to my customers," he said prior to sentencing. "I have a responsibility to them, my wife, and my family, and I will take care of that - legally - however long that takes."

Defense attorney Andy Hart said the case would be appealed.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-353-5972.