A former Microsoft director has pleaded guilty to a single count in a federal case that alleges he bilked the company out of nearly $1 million in a scheme that involved embezzlement and selling stolen Super Bowl tickets.
A former Microsoft director pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal wire-fraud charge after he allegedly used his position to defraud the company of almost $1 million, including the theft of Super Bowl tickets meant to be given to employees.
Jeff Tran, 45, who served as director of Microsoft’s Sports Marketing and Alliances division, allegedly stole 62 Super Bowl tickets intended for company employees and sold them online for $200,000, according to an indictment handed up in October by a federal grand jury. He also convinced a vendor to cover up a $775,000 payment he extorted in another Super Bowl-related scheme, according to charges.
Tran appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida in Seattle, where he pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in a deal that will result in the dismissal of four other counts when he’s sentenced May 10 by U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, according to the court docket. Wire fraud carries a possible prison term of up to 20 years. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors will ask that Tran serve no more than three years in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Tran was indicted after Microsoft officials alerted the FBI that Tran, who oversaw the company’s promotional relationship with the National Football League, had solicited a $775,000 payment from a vendor purportedly for services related to the 2017 Super Bowl. The indictment alleged Tran funneled the payment to his own bank account, and then asked the vendor to help cover it up, threatening to remove the business from a preferred vendor list if it didn’t. Prosecutors say Tran tried to solicit a second, $670,000 payment through a fraudulent invoice and was planning to ask for a third for $500,000, but was caught.
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When Microsoft vendors became suspicious of Tran’s activity and reported the conduct to the company, prosecutors allege Tran destroyed electronic communications and told the vendors to lie to Microsoft about the $775,000 payment. Tran first claimed he had been hacked, but later paid $1,036,000 to Microsoft in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors also accused Tran of stealing blocks of Super Bowl tickets and Super Bowl Party tickets belonging to Microsoft. Part of his job was to decide which Microsoft employees would receive Super Bowl tickets. In one instance, he sold an unnamed Microsoft employee a pair of the free tickets for $12,400 and pocketed that money, too, according to the indictment.
Tran remains free on bond pending sentencing.