Richmond County deputies charge 24 with scalping Masters tickets

Ticket scalping an issue at club gates

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 7:14 PM
Last updated Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:16 AM
  • Follow Crime & courts

Pam Harwell expected her Tuesday would be spent walking along the rolling green hills of Augusta National Golf Club, taking in the beautiful scenery and watching the best golfers in the world practicing their trade.

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People wait for family and friends to be released on bond Tuesday afternoon outside the Richmond County jail.  STEVE CRAWFORD/STAFF
STEVE CRAWFORD/STAFF
People wait for family and friends to be released on bond Tuesday afternoon outside the Richmond County jail.

Instead, she spent her afternoon sitting on a vinyl sofa, waiting for her husband to be released from the Richmond County jail.

Aubrey Harwell Jr. was one of 24 people arrested outside the gates of Augusta National on Tuesday – all charged with disorderly conduct for violating the city’s ticket scalping ordinance.

Before coming out for Tuesday’s practice round, the Atlanta couple had been informed by friends that they could easily get tickets from patrons leaving for the day, Harwell said.

She said her husband approached a man near the corner of Berckmans and Washington roads and offered him $20 for his ticket. As soon as the exchange took place, both men found themselves under arrest, Harwell said.

“We did it right there in front of the officer. We didn’t know,” said Harwell, who was waiting to hear when her husband would be released on the $500 bond she had posted. The bond amount will serve as his fine, should he decide to plead guilty to the charge, authorities said.

Harwell said this was her first Masters Tournament and she had no idea there was a law against buying and selling tickets within 2,700 feet of the event’s gates.

“I don’t think we will be coming back,” she said.

Those arrested ranged from old to young – 72 to 18 – and from as far away as Ontario, Canada. One man from Augusta and two from Aiken were among those charged.

Outside the jail Tuesday afternoon, a crowd gathered and waited for family and friends to be released on bond.

None wanted to be named, but many complained that the law was confusing with the plethora of ticket brokers doing open business up and down Washington Road. They weren’t aware there was a 2,700-foot buffer zone where no ticket transactions could be conducted.

One man said he bought a ticket last year and didn’t have a problem. This year, he said he was arrested while trying to buy a ticket for his 12-year-old daughter.

He said he was walked away in handcuffs while his daughter remained behind with a friend.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said in addition to the 24 arrested for violating the ordinance, one man was charged with violating state law.

Edward Martin Testa, 47, of Hudson, Ohio, was arrested at Gate 9 and charged with ticket scalping. He was being held on $5,000 bond.

Deputies also filed a juvenile complaint against a local teen for trying to buy tickets too close to the event. Gay said the boy was released to his parents.

Gay said deputies are focusing their efforts on people who are stopping patrons outside the club gates. Even attempting to negotiate a ticket sale to take place at a different location is not advisable.

“Some are doing it inside the gates,” Gay said.

“We don’t want patrons being harassed by people asking them for tickets right as they come out,” he said.

If people would conduct their business outside the 2,700-foot boundary there will be no problem, he said.

“We are not arbitrarily picking folks out of the crowd,” Gay said.

Comments (61) Add comment
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comet2u
28
Points
comet2u 04/03/12 - 07:50 pm
0
6
Journalism 101: Proof before

Journalism 101: Proof before you publish. Last night 'Alanta' today 'ticekts'

kiwiinamerica
942
Points
kiwiinamerica 04/03/12 - 09:59 pm
0
0
Great story..........LOL! See
Unpublished

Great story..........LOL!

See "The Masters Horror Movie"...........opening at a cinema near you on Thursday.

Grandma and Grandpa go to Augusta to watch the golf and try to buy a ticket outside the gates. From there, things go badly wrong. Grandpa gets busted by a bull-necked cop and goes to jail and that's where the nightmare REALLY begins............

Don't miss it............"Amen Corner" will take on a whole new meaning.....LOL!

JRC2024
8854
Points
JRC2024 04/03/12 - 10:38 pm
7
0
I wonder if there are signs

I wonder if there are signs on the gates about the 2700 foot rule. If not, how would a person from another state or country know the rules? Insider, I do not see where your comment is within the scope of the article.

Holdem
1
Points
Holdem 04/03/12 - 11:05 pm
10
0
How is selling a ticket that

How is selling a ticket that has a face value of $50 for $20 considered scalping?

kwhorne
0
Points
kwhorne 04/03/12 - 11:17 pm
4
1
This seems really really

This seems really really ridiculous... I hear about folks going up and getting tickets from Patrons as they leave all the time.. Wow..

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 04/04/12 - 12:07 am
5
5
JRC2024, the "scope" of the

JRC2024, the "scope" of the power of the Big Green Monster is amazing. The entire city, including law enforcement, bow down to their Masters. That includes cracking down on scalpers and turning a blind eye a few years back when guards at the National shot a couple of guys who were fishing.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 04/04/12 - 12:46 am
5
3
This brings up a good point;

This brings up a good point; how do you obey an ordinance that you know nothing about??? Visitors from out of town should not have to do a study on local law before coming to town.........another question..why is it scalping if I sell my ticket to a sporting event to whomever I want at whatever price I want, yet when the sports ticket "companies" can corner the market on all of the good tickets and charge 3 or 4 times the face value......and it is considered good business. I have lived here all of my life (61 years) and have never been able to even get in the gate of the National. Yet, we local citizens are supposed to embrace and promote this highly popular event, or we are considered disloyal to Augusta.

allhans
23641
Points
allhans 04/04/12 - 12:47 am
3
4
The Green Monster might also

The Green Monster might also be called "jealousy'.

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 04/04/12 - 01:22 am
7
2
This is a ridiculous law.

This is a ridiculous law. There is no advantage to the city to enforce it. As Thoreau said, "Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it."

allhans
23641
Points
allhans 04/04/12 - 06:10 am
4
5
As I said on the other

As I said on the other comment section, most of us don't like being grabbed and asked for our tickets....It is not a nice experience.

"Get lost... stop trying to scam your way through life."

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 04/04/12 - 07:01 am
5
0
I can understand the buffer.

I can understand the buffer. I've been to a lot of sporting events over the years and it is very annoying to have people right outside the venue trying to either sell or buy the tickets before and after the event. You should certainly be able to get between the gate and your car without such harassment.

nanowerx
1323
Points
nanowerx 04/04/12 - 07:06 am
5
2
Yeah, I don't get this. It is

Yeah, I don't get this. It is one thing to get arrested for selling fake tickets, but for exchanging who has the rights to the pass is ridiculous. They sold the tickets, they know how many people will be there; if someone leaves and wants to pass on their ticket to someone else then no harm is done and the number of people at the tournament did not go up for the day. Think of it like buying a car and then turning around the next day and selling it off; the dealer already got paid and somebody is still driving the car, "who" is now driving it does not matter.

This is simple extortion by the Sheriff Department, trying to get extra cash out of hopeful tourists. Way to ruin peoples opinion of our city. And you thought cops were hanging outside the event for safety, HA!

scoobynews
3854
Points
scoobynews 04/04/12 - 07:19 am
1
4
I am personally disgusted

I am personally disgusted with the whole city of Augusta turning into Masters town for a week. I have personally seen price gouging from local restaurants during Master's week which is suppose to be illegal but nothing happens to them. I think arresting those people was nothing more than Augusta lining their pockets with the money of folks disperate enough to want to go to that snooty event. To those complaining about being harassed then maybe the Master's needs to make it easier for patrons who want to attend to GET a ticket without having to fill out applications to even have the privilage of being considered for one. I think they need to stop giving them to all the good ol boy network who have been getting them for years so that the common folk who want to attend can maybe then they wouldn't have to harass you for a ticket.

Little Lamb
45994
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/12 - 07:58 am
6
1
Come on, Scooby. Smart

Come on, Scooby. Smart Augustans eat at home during Masters week. Let the visitors pay the new menu prices. I'll go back to a restaurant next week.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 04/04/12 - 07:59 am
4
0
2700 feet makes perfect

2700 feet makes perfect sense.

2701 is too far. 2699 is too close. 2700 is just right.

Now where is my tape measure...

Little Lamb
45994
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/12 - 08:02 am
4
1
specsta posted: This is a

specsta posted:

This is a ridiculous law. There is no advantage to the city to enforce it. As Thoreau said, "Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it."

I agree, specsta. And if the U.S. Justice Department can choose not to enforce DOMA or the immigration laws, then Richmond County Sheriff office can choose not to enforce the state of Georgia scalping laws.

agustinian
689
Points
agustinian 04/04/12 - 08:05 am
5
0
Since this is a city

Since this is a city ordinance, why don't we do a better job of telling people what the law is. Put a NOTICE on the ticket, and some signs at or near the event site.
How 'bout some warnings by police the first day or two?
I think this reflects poorly on Augusta. Lets do a better job of hosting the out-of-towners.

Little Lamb
45994
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/12 - 08:09 am
0
0
Actually, I believe it is a

Actually, I believe it is a state law. Can anyone correct me or back me up?

Little Lamb
45994
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/12 - 08:19 am
1
0
Okay, I found this capsule

Okay, I found this capsule summary on the internet:

Georgia

● Requires ticket resellers to be registered

● Prohibits anyone other than a registered ticket broker from selling a ticket for more than face value plus $3 service charge, unless the event sponsor authorizes a higher amount

● Authorizes an event sponsor to restrict purchaser's ability to resell a ticket

● Sets standards for registered ticket brokers, including (1) maintaining a permanent office in-state, (2) paying a $500 annual registration fee, and (3) disclosing its refund policy

● Allows brokers to sell tickets at their permanent offices or through the Internet

● Prohibits ticket brokers from (1) hiring employees to buy tickets to future events, (2) acquiring more than 1% of the tickets to any event

● Establishes other requirements, including ticket refund if event is cancelled

● Prohibits reselling within 1,500 feet of venues with a seating capacity under 15,000 and within 2,700 feet of larger venues

● Allows original purchasers of tickets for personal use to resell for any price except within the 1,500 foot or 2,700 foot buffer zones

● Allows charities to resell tickets as a fundraising activity without registering or being subject to price limits

● Allows event sponsors to permit ticket reselling within the buffer zones (Ga. Code §§ 43-4B-25 to 43-4B-31)

Here is the link to a state-by-state synopsis.

justthefacts
21805
Points
justthefacts 04/04/12 - 08:20 am
3
1
Little Lamb, it is a state

Little Lamb, it is a state law. People seem to want to blame the Augusta National for some reason.

scoobynews
3854
Points
scoobynews 04/04/12 - 08:32 am
1
0
Thankfully I am not from

Thankfully I am not from Augusta but live about 30 minutes away. Unfortunately my spring break is centered around the Master's as it has been for many years so this is my only time to enjoy going out to eat during the week something I normally can't do until Summer or weekends. I have learned to only go during the day and avoid certain ones at night.

chivalry7650
0
Points
chivalry7650 04/04/12 - 09:07 am
2
0
Here's an idea to solve the

Here's an idea to solve the whole ticket fiasco once and for all. As with a movie or play, stamp/punch the ticket upon entry and then the ticket cannot be resold/passed on after entry. Problem solved...now lets hear all the businesses whine about their clients who change out every 2 hours so everyone gets to go on a single pair of tickets.

RIDICKSON
0
Points
RIDICKSON 04/04/12 - 09:08 am
2
0
Does anyone feel that this

Does anyone feel that this matter can be challenged legally? Is this worth considering? My son was completely unaware that what he was doing was illegal and there seems to be no consistency to what is being applied? Has anyone sought legal advice - or is it a case of pay up and shut up?

Little Lamb
45994
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/12 - 09:10 am
2
0
Well, if you live 30 minutes

Well, if you live 30 minutes away to the west, there are some good restaurants in Thomson. If you are thirty minutes away to the north, there are some great places near Abbeville. 30 minutes to the south, you have the Good Day Cafe in Waynesboro. And if you are 30 minutes to the east, you are almost in Lexington. Good restaurants there.

Holdem
1
Points
Holdem 04/04/12 - 10:49 am
5
0
I just don't see the big

I just don't see the big deal. Joe from Oshkosh applies for a ticket and gets one for monday.Face value,$50.He goes in at 9 AM and has a great time and spends $200 in the gift shop.He leaves at 1 PM and instead of throwing his ticket in the floorboard of his car,sells it to Tom for $40 in the parking lot.Tom then goes in,enjoys 4 hours on the course and plunks down another $200 in the gift shop while Joe is down at Hooter's spending his $40 on wings and beer.Everybody wins..........

justthefacts
21805
Points
justthefacts 04/04/12 - 09:11 am
0
2
chivary, why would that be

chivary, why would that be whining? All anyone has to do is follow the law or have it changed. Problem solved.

Little Lamb
45994
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/12 - 09:14 am
1
0
To RIDICKSON, I feel your

To RIDICKSON, I feel your pain and frustration. It appears that scalping within 2,700 feet of a large venue is against state law, and it is a serious matter. The sheriff's deputies are doing visitors a favor by charging them only under the local disorderly conduct ordinance instead of the state law. Sure, $500 for disorderly conduct seems a bit steep, but it could be worse.

For visitors, it might be good to check out the newspaper and the TV station web sites the week before you get here. They always have scalping stories ahead of time. Unfortunately, most visitors don't think to scope out the local news media.

Totally Outraged
0
Points
Totally Outraged 04/04/12 - 09:18 am
1
0
I'll be walking of that 2700
Unpublished

I'll be walking of that 2700 feet today in handcuffs and shackles LOL!

Georgialina
7441
Points
Georgialina 04/04/12 - 09:28 am
6
0
I have always felt this was a

I have always felt this was a stupid law pushed by the ANGC. I have tickets and have for MANY years. On Monday or Tuesday when I leave the course I have given/sold my ticket so someone else can enjoy the course too. The ANGC makes it next to impossible to get tickets so passing your ticket on to someone after you have finished with it for the day should not be a crime. IMHO.

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