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Deliberations To Start Soon In Craig Carton Ponzi Scheme Trial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Jury deliberations are likely to start Wednesday in the fraud trial of former WFAN morning show host Craig Carton.

Carton is accused of running a Ponzi scheme where he pretended he was reselling tickets. Prosecutors say he diverted the money he collected to cover gambling and personal expenses.

Carton, 49, of Manhattan, was an on-air partner of former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason. He left the show after his arrest last year, when prosecutors alleged he had misappropriated at least $5.6 million from investors.

"People trusted him," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Quigley told the Manhattan federal court jury. "He lied to them."

The longtime co-host of WFAN's "Boomer and Carton" was represented by defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb, who said his client has always told the truth.

"The government is dead wrong. The government has been dead wrong from the time they arrested Craig Carton," Gottlieb said.

The lawyer blamed the charges on Carton's former business partner, Joseph Meli.

Meli was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison earlier this year after pleading guilty in a $100 million ticket reselling business fraud.

Gottlieb called Meli a "con man, a liar, a thief" who "tricked countless people, including Craig Carton."

The lawyer described Carton's entry into the ticket reselling business in a way that made it sound inevitable after Carton met top executives at entertainment venues over the last decade.

In time, the executives offered Carton the chance to buy and resell ever growing numbers of premium tickets, leading him to seek a business partner with experience in the industry, Gottlieb said.

"Meli had all the trappings of financial success swirling around him," Gottlieb said. "Mr. Carton was played."

After Carton's arrest, Esiason told the Boston radio team of Toucher & Rich morning that he was "lost and kind of a little bit heartbroken over the whole thing."

In a statement, Carton promised that "when this strange episode is over, I'll be back, stronger than ever."

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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