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Former USGA employee charged with embezzling $3 million in U.S. Open tickets

August 17, 2021

Andrew Redington

A former USGA employee has been charged with embezzling more than $3 million in U.S. Open tickets over a seven-year span.

On Tuesday, acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced Robert Fryer, a former assistant director in the USGA’s ticket office, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, and 10 counts of wire fraud related to a scheme involving the USGA’s flagship event. The United States Attorney's Office (USAO) for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleges Fryer “abused his position in the USGA Admissions Office in order to steal more than 23,000 U.S. Open admission tickets, all without the knowledge and consent of the USGA.”

Fryer is to alleged to have then sold those tickets to third-party brokers in return for payments totaling more than $1 million, which Fryer allegedly received in cash and PayPal transfers. The face value of the property was more than $3 million. The Eastern District of Pennsylvania said Fryer began his operation prior to the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion and continued through the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

“The defendant allegedly stole revenue from a legitimate business that pays taxes, employs many, supports a non-profit organization, and brings excitement and income to our district with U.S. Open events at courses like the Merion Golf Club,” said Williams. “Criminals that conduct ticket schemes like this prey on the excitement surrounding big events; fans should remember that any item with a low price that seems ‘too good to be true’ should be cause for caution and concern.”

Fryer faces a maximum sentence of 300 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $3,750,000 fine, and a $1,500 special assessment. Fryer would also be required to pay restitution to the USGA and forfeit the proceeds he obtained from the scheme. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Fryer waved his right to be indicted by a grand jury, often a sign the defendant has agreed to plead guilty.

In a statement, the USGA said it was “both appreciative and fully supportive of the efforts of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office [for] the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in this investigation.”