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Old 07-28-2006, 05:31 AM   #1
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Stolen tickets to Portland show '05

From News

Hot seats to U2 sold for an even hotter one
Ticket scalping - No sex, no drugs, put plenty of drama before and after any of the rock 'n' roll

Friday, July 28, 2006

A week before Christmas, Guy Edwards of Northeast Portland was talking to a casual friend he knew only as Rudy. The subject turned to the rock band U2, which was playing a sold-out Rose Garden the next night. Edwards had loved U2 since high school. Rudy said: Want tickets?

Edwards, intrigued, asked the price. A seat cost $95, and some people were paying much more. But Rudy said he knew a guy who had two tickets he would sell for $200. Wanting to surprise his girlfriend, Edwards agreed, and later that day, another guy came to Edwards' house, and they made the deal.

But on the night of the show, Edwards' girlfriend came home from work too tired for a concert, and she pointed out they needed money for Christmas. So hours before the Irish rockers took the Rose Garden stage, Edwards offered the tickets on the Internet market Craigslist for what he paid for them. To prove the tickets were real, he listed the seat numbers

Shortly after he clicked his mouse, his cell phone rang. An interested buyer suggested meeting immediately at the Top of the Hill Tavern on Northeast Glisan Street. With the clock ticking toward the concert's start, the two men met at the bar.

The buyer offered a roll of bills. Edwards handed over the tickets.

The buyer looked at them and said, "These are my tickets."

That was the code phrase. In the next instant, Edwards felt a hand on his arm. Portland police Sgt. John Brooks, in plainclothes, identified himself, led Edwards away from the bar and snapped handcuffs on him.

After 20 minutes in a holding cell, Edwards told Brooks that he did not know the name of the guy who sold him the tickets. But Edwards said he knew Rudy to be a petty crook; Edwards once bought a small Buddha statue from Rudy, no questions asked.

So Edwards "kinda knew" the U2 tickets were stolen.
What Edwards did not know was that the tickets had been stolen from Michael Caster of Southwest Portland, the man who met him in the bar that night.

Several weeks before, Caster had bought the U2 tickets on eBay for $700. For verification, Caster got a photograph of the tickets showing the seat numbers. When the tickets arrived, Caster put them in his car. Then a thief broke in and took the tickets.
Caster had despaired of the loss. But hours before the concert, he happened to be scanning Craigslist when he spotted his stolen tickets for sale.

Caster still had the eBay photo to identify the seat numbers. He called police, and given that time was of the essence, Brooks agreed to help.

Once he got his tickets back, Caster went to the concert. Edwards went to jail.

Wednesday, Edwards told a Multnomah County Circuit Court jury he didn't know the tickets were stolen. The jury, however, noted the discrepancy between his testimony and the police officer's.

One of the jurors was Ellen Rosenblum, a Court of Appeals judge who sat as a Multnomah County Circuit judge for more than 16 years. She said the case was easy to decide because it rested entirely on Edwards' credibility.

"The question was, 'Did he know he was selling stolen tickets?' " she said. "He said he kinda knew. That's direct evidence, and it's very unusual to have direct evidence of a mental state." The judge said she knew that U2 was a popular band but, "I never thought anyone would pay that kind of money for tickets."

It took the jury just 20 minutes to convict Edwards of first-degree theft. Now he faces as long as 18 months' probation when he is sentenced Thursday.


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Old 07-28-2006, 10:52 AM   #2
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