Fifteen people were charged with ticket scalping and 183 tickets were seized by undercover officers outside Memorial Auditorium before Sunday night's Buffalo Sabres game in the first wave of a crackdown on illegal ticket sales.
Detective Bob Chella of the Kensington Station and Detective James Krause of the Narcotics Unit said those arrested were charged with "ticket speculation," a violation of the state's Arts and Cultural Affairs Law.
That law makes it illegal for an unauthorized agent to resell tickets that have been bought from the vendor offering an event. If convicted, violators can be sentenced to a maximum of 15 days in jail or be ordered to pay a small fine.
"I know how they (scalpers) feel. They feel since they are not jacking up the price of tickets, it's OK," Chella said.
Some suspects were not arrested because officers did not see them attempting to sell the tickets, Chella said.
The crackdown was initiated by the Sabres' management and RJD Security, the firm that handles security at the Aud for the games, Chella said.
While scalpers have become a familiar site near the Aud before hockey games, Chella said, the Sabres have become concerned that some scalpers were harassing patrons, cheating them by selling tickets to past games and in some cases selling tickets that had been stolen. Chella noted that some bold scalpers were soliciting patrons inside the vestibule of the Aud and undercutting the standard ticket price.
"The Sabres are researching where the tickets came from. There will be a scrutiny of the tickets seized and how they got into the public's hands," Chella said.
Chella said he realizes that some of the scalpers simply are season-ticket holders trying to recoup some of their money. However, he said he knows of at least one situation where a block of season tickets were among items stolen from a South Buffalo lawyer's office.
The lawyer attended a recent game and spotted a Batavia couple in his seats. The tickets apparently were sold to the couple by a youth.
Fourteen of the suspects were issued appearance tickets; one Canadian had to post $50 bail. Chella noted that those arrested a second time under the same law after a conviction could be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.