The former CEO of Hawaii’s Tickets Plus has been granted a deferral of his no contest plea and put on five years probation. Manuel Sanchez was originally charged with stealing about $500,000 from the National Football League.
Sanchez and his wife, who was secretary-treasurer of the company, were sued in 2003 by the NFL, which claimed it was owed $474,604 for tickets sold to the Pro Bowl as well as a $100,000 event sponsorship fee.
The former CEO claimed he had business ventures that fell through and needed extra time to secure the money for repayment, according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He made a $100,000 payment early on, but Sanchez claimed it took him until mid-June to find business associates who would loan him the rest of the money. He said he’s paid the NFL $557,000 since he was charged.
U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Pollack granted a deferral of Sanchez’s no-contest plea June 27th. In addition to probation, the businessman was fined $25,000 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service. The deferral means the felony theft charge will be dismissed if he abides by the conditions.
“All [Sanchez] did was return something that didn’t belong to him in the first place,” deputy prosecutor Chris Van Marter told the Star-Bulletin. Marter argued for probation with a year in jail. “This was criminal, not civil conduct.”
He said the decision sent a message that stealing a half-million dollars will result in nothing more than a deferral and having the matter wiped clean from the record.
Defense attorney Michael Green said the decision was just and, although Sanchez made a mistake, his client has helped raise money for various charities.
Pollack determined that Sanchez expressed remorse and has started a business employing others. The judge also said the former ticket broker paid back some of the money back by selling his home.