Federal prosecutors on Monday gave their first detailed account of the roles played by Los Angeles Rams owner Georgia Frontiere and her husband, Dominic, in dealing with Rams tickets to the 1980 Super Bowl game that were scalped or not otherwise accounted for.
Dominic Frontiere has pleaded guilty to charges that he willfully filed a false income tax return and lied to Internal Revenue Service investigators to cover up his role in scalping the tickets. He is awaiting sentencing.
Georgia Frontiere has not been charged with any crime. The prosecutors made no allegation that she knew that Dominic was scalping tickets. She and Dominic were engaged at the time of the Super Bowl, married later that year, and filed a joint income tax return for that year.
The prosecutors characterized Dominic Frontiere, an Emmy award-winning Hollywood composer, as "a major white-collar criminal" who made $500,000 from the scalping.
They said that in arranging for the scalping, Dominic Frontiere told an intermediary, Raymond Cohen, that he expected to have access to Super Bowl tickets for years to come and that if all went well, he could supply Cohen with tickets to sell for a long time. Prosecutors, however, provided no evidence that the scalping continued.
In a sentencing memorandum filed in Los Angeles federal court, the prosecutors said that in the weeks before the 1980 Super Bowl, Georgia Frontiere ordered that boxes containing all 27,000 of the Rams' tickets be delivered to the Bel-Air estate she shared with Dominic Frontiere.
They said that Dominic Frontiere gave one box containing 5,000 of the tickets to Cohen.
2,500 Tickets Returned
The prosecutors said he later got 2,500 of these tickets back from Cohen after a season ticket-holder, apparently miffed because he was not given a ticket, threatened to file a class-action lawsuit.
Georgia Frontiere's attorney, Michael Harahan, learned about the threatened lawsuit and met with Rams ticket manager Don Nims, who told him he did not have enough tickets to satisfy all season ticket-holder requests, the prosecutors said.
Harahan then met with the Frontieres, telling them the suit had merit. Georgia Frontiere decided the suit should be settled. She told Harahan that she and her husband would make other tickets available, the prosecutors said.
The next day, Dominic Frontiere told Cohen that he needed the 2,500 tickets back, the prosecutors said. Later that week, Dominic Frontiere delivered those tickets to Harahan.
Tickets Were Sold
The prosecutors said Cohen and others whom they did not identify, working as Cohen's salesmen, ultimately sold tickets to various ticket brokers in Los Angeles and New York. They named the Al Brooks ticket agency and noted that a Brooks salesman had called Nims to make certain that no tickets had been lost or stolen before the agency purchased about 500 tickets. They also said Murray's Ticket Agency purchased between 1,000 and 1,500 tickets, and that Tyson's ticket agency purchased "a large block."
The prosecutors said that 3,216 tickets were unaccounted for on the Rams' books.
They said that Georgia Frontiere had ordered that no complimentary tickets be given to anyone, not even employees. Even Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley paid his own way to the game, which was played that year in Pasadena, the prosecutors said. So did Georgia Frontiere's brother, they added.
However, two months after the Super Bowl, Georgia told Clyde Gibson, then comptroller for the Rams, that the unaccounted-for tickets had been given out on a complimentary basis, the prosecutors said.
Georgia Frontiere was not available for comment Monday.
However, her attorney, Joseph W. Cotchett, said: "The fact of the matter is that Georgia Frontiere was not indicted and knew nothing about the activities of Dominic vis-a-vis his activity with the tickets. . . . She had little or no knowledge about what was going on with those tickets." Cotchett added that in his own investigation into the scalping allegations in 1981, he found that some tickets had been given out on a complimentary basis and he was able to account for all but 167 tickets.
When he is sentenced next Monday by Judge William D. Keller, Dominic Frontiere faces penalties ranging from probation to eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
In keeping with an agreement with defense attorneys as part of a plea-bargain, the prosecutors, Richard J. Leon and Sam L. Strother, did not make any specific recommendation on whether Frontiere should be sent to prison. But they noted that they deemed his offense to be very serious and that their silence should not be construed as a call for leniency.
The prosecutors said that Dominic Frontiere initiated the scalping scheme in the fall of 1979, before the Rams were assured of a Super Bowl berth, by meeting with a longtime friend, Daniel Whitman, a restaurateur who then owned Cyrano's on the Sunset Strip.
Dominic Frontiere asked Whitman if he knew anyone who could sell the Super Bowl tickets if Dominic Frontiere could get some.
Whitman suggested Cohen, a longtime associate.
In accounts filed with the court by his own lawyers, Dominic Frontiere has said that he gave Cohen 1,800 tickets and told him to get as much money for them as he could, and that Cohen sold most of the tickets and gave him a paper bag containing about $100,000.
He said he did not report the income in part because Cohen extorted most of the money from him, invoking the name of a reputed organized-crime figure to frighten him.
The prosecutors dismissed this as a false bid for sympathy, saying there is no corroboration for it.
Cohen became a government informant after he was arrested for counterfeiting.
Prosecutors did not dispute Dominic Frontiere's assertion that he did not owe any income taxes for 1980 because his additional unreported income from the ticket sales was more than offset by an extraordinary one-time operating loss that was available to him and his wife.