By Lorraine Swanson
The FBI is asking for the public’s help for information leading to the arrests of five Chicago men believed to be tied to a counterfeit ticket ring.
Sixteen individuals were charged in February as part of a joint investigation, Operation Bear Down, who were part of a wide-ranging counterfeit ticket scheme to games and events at Chicago’s Soldier Field, United Center and the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, federal investigators said.
Since the charges were announced, 11 people have been taken into custody and charged with forgery, a class 3 felony. Five alleged counterfeiters are still on the loose. The group is believed to be tied to the Gangster Disciples and operated out of the Wentworth Gardens housing complex, news reports said.
The counterfeiters printed tickets to games events and then plied them on Craigslist and other online ads. The sellers met with unsuspecting buyers at coffee shops or restaurants to exchange the tickets for cash, according to federal investigators.
The buyers did not realize they were duped until they showed up and tried enter the events.
The FBI is looking for Joseph McKnight, 27, of the 0-100 block of East 59th Street; Rodney Pole, 25, of the 7100 block of South Francisco Avenue; Marcus Moore, 19, of the 10600 block of South Champlain Avenue; Rashawn Mays, 30, of the 200 block of West Pershing Road; and Lamont Flowers, 30, of the 3800 block of South Wells Street.
Also charged are Labron Gray, 39; Nathaniel Gray, 24; Mitchell Hazzard, 36; Dionte Johnson, 20; Darrick McClinton, 33; Kenneth McCullough, 19; Russell Merritt, 36; David Metcalf, 25; Mark Morrison, 24; Jason Peters, 24; and Lionel Robinson, 34.
The Chicago Police Department’s Organized Crime Division said the group used sophisticated, high-tech printing equipment to produce the fake tickets. The schemers are believed to have racked up $60,000 in bogus ticket sales per event, ABC 7 Chicago reported.