Defendant challenges his sentence in KU ticket scandal

A key figure in the University of Kansas athletic ticket-skimming scandal has returned to federal court, asking for a shorter sentence.

Former athletic department consultant Thomas Blubaugh, 48, filed a motion late Friday asking that his 46-month sentence, which he received a year ago, be reduced to 33 months.

Blubaugh, the husband of Charlette Faye Blubaugh, the university’s former ticket director, helped his wife steal tickets and then conceal the wide-ranging, $2 million scheme to divert tickets to the black market.

His wife received a 57-month sentence, which she is serving at a federal prison in Texas. Thomas Blubaugh is at a prison in Oklahoma.

In his motion, filed without a lawyer, Blubaugh contended that his sentencing judge “relied heavily on hearsay, assumptions and inferences” in deciding that thousands of unsold tickets stashed in a Lenexa storage unit were evidence that the Blubaughs were trying to hide their crimes.

The sentence was imposed by Senior U.S. District Judge Wesley E. Brown, who died in January at age 104. In a written order filed immediately after the sentencing, Brown said that had university auditors known about the so-called “deadwood tickets” in the storage unit, they could have uncovered the theft scheme much earlier.

“(A)ny suggestion that moving the deadwood tickets to a private storage unit was not part of a concerted effort to conceal the defendants’ theft of tickets defies both common sense and the clear import of such actions,” Brown wrote.

Blubaugh also contended he should have received a shorter sentence because his conduct was less serious than that of co-defendant Kassie Liebsch, a former interim KU ticket director, who received a 37-month sentence.

Blubaugh is the first of the seven KU ticket defendants to challenge the legality of his sentence. Prosecutors have not yet responded to his motion.

A federal judge in Wichita recently rejected a request from Brandon Simmons, the athletic department’s former director of sales and marketing, that he be released early from his two-year probation.