A former USGA employee has been charged with embezzling more than $US3 million in US Open tickets during a seven-year span.

Overnight, Australian time, 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 US 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 totalling more than $US1 million, which Fryer allegedly received in cash and PayPal transfers. The face value of the property was more than $US3 million. The Eastern District of Pennsylvania said Fryer began his operation prior to the 2013 US Open at Merion and continued through to the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach. 

“The defendant allegedly stole revenue from a legitimate business that pays taxes, employs many, supports a non-profit organisation, and brings excitement and income to our district with US Open events at courses like the Merion Golf Club,” Williams said. “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 $US3,750,000 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 US Attorney’s Office [for] the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in this investigation”.

PHOTO: Andrew Redington