October 04, 2016 - 5:50 PM
HONOLULU - A North Carolina concert promoter pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding the University of Hawaii of $200,000 by promising to secure Stevie Wonder for an athletics department fundraising concert that never happened.
Marc Hubbard pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court in Honolulu, saying he lied about his ability to secure Wonder for a concert.
"First, I would like to apologize to the court for my actions," Hubbard said then added that his mistake was helping co-defendant Sean Barriero, who previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
The university paid the $200,000 deposit in 2012 then began selling tickets before learning that neither Wonder nor his representatives had authorized a show.
Thousands of ticket purchases had to be refunded, causing embarrassment for the school and prompting investigations.
A special state Senate committee that investigated the university's handling of the bungled concert said the incident tarnished the university's reputation.
The committee said no one at the university looked into whether the agent was an authorized representative of the singer. They also faulted a lack of oversight and communication in the school's athletics department, general counsel and disbursing office.
"The University of Hawaii thanks the responsible law enforcement officials and prosecutors for their hard work in successfully closing this case," said university spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors will recommend that Hubbard's sentence run concurrently with the sentence he receives for a similar case in Pennsylvania.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in Pennsylvania next week and in Hawaii on Feb. 16.
He could face up to 20 years in prison and must pay $200,000 restitution to the university and $50,000 to a university supporter who provided initial funding.
After the supporter wired the initial $50,000, Hubbard said he couldn't secure Wonder without additional money, which prompted the university to wire $200,000, prosecutors said.
Barriero is also scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 16.
Court records say Hubbard previously pleaded guilty in South Carolina and New York to wire fraud and conspiracy charges.
Court documents show an Oahu concert promoter approached the university about bringing Wonder to Hawaii for the benefit concert. That promoter contacted someone else, who then contacted Barriero.
A University of Hawaii task force reporting to the Board of Regents said the school allowed itself to be deceived because those involved in the financial transactions lacked judgment and didn't take responsibility.
The university reassigned athletic director Jim Donovan after the failed concert came to light. Donovan later left the university.
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News from © The Associated Press, 2016