A Florida man convicted in an Iowa concert ticket scam also was involved in the Bernie Mac concert scam in Athens in 2005, according to authorities.
As The Messenger reported Sunday, 38-year old Scott Elkins of Tampa, Fla., was sentenced last month to 78 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud in connection with a non-existent rap concert that supposedly was to be held in Dubuque, Iowa. A news release announcing the sentencing said Elkins was involved in similar concert scams elsewhere, including Athens, but did not specifically mention the Bernie Mac concert scam, and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Iowa was unable to provide more information Friday.
However, Athens Police Investigator Rick Olexa said Monday that it was the Bernie Mac incident in which Elkins was involved.
In 2005, ticket buyers in Athens were bilked out of between $12,500 and $15,000 when 500-600 tickets were sold for a Bernie Mac concert that was supposedly to be held at the Athens Community Center, but never took place.
“We don’t believe Elkins was ever in town,” Olexa said. “It seems like it was all set up from other locations.”
At the time, local entertainment promoter Curtis Manley said someone claiming to be the agent of comedian Bernie Mac contacted him about Mac doing a concert in Athens. Tickets were sold at Haffa’s Records and the Import House for $25 each. Manley said a man picked up the proceeds of the ticket sales on the pretext of having to pay Manley for his expenses, but was never seen again.
Police suspected that man was Charles Wartham, Olexa said, but police were unable to find anyone in Athens who could ID a picture of Wartham.
In 2008, Wartham was sentenced to 78 months in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud in the Dubuque case. According to federal court documents, Wartham admitted being the one who mailed a packet containing fliers, tickets and money orders related to the fake rap concert to a radio station in Dubuque, and also was the one who, while wearing a disguise, picked up the cash from ticket sales.
Manley, who now lives in Groveport, said he intends to contact Athens police to see if restitution is a possibility, but Olexa expressed doubts that Elkins would have the funds to pay restitution. Federal court records indicate that Elkins and Wartham were ordered to pay a total of $60,449, with the money going to victims in Iowa and Texas.
Manley said he lost about $3,000 cash on the scam. He said he also lost out on a payment he would have received if there had actually been a Bernie Mac concert. Manley said he worked on the concert for 45 days and had been promised payment of at least $5,000, but more likely $8,000-$15,000.