United Airlines Employee Pleads Guilty Stealing 500 Airline Tickets


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United Airlines Employee Pleads Guilty Stealing 500 Airline Tickets

By Eddy Metcalf

June 4, 2010 - The president of the Cincinnati Roller Girls, Mercedes B. Stafford, who skates under the name “Sadistic Sadie,” pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Covington, Kentucky on Thursday to one count of wire fraud, admitting that she illegally obtained more than 500 airline tickets between while employed at United Airlines at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport. 

According to court documents, Stafford, 34, of Cincinnati, fraudulently bought “involuntary tickets” that airlines issue when a passenger’s flight is cancelled or delayed.

She created fake ticket numbers that she used to buy real tickets on United and other airlines for herself, her friends, her family, the Cincinnati Roller Girls, and other individuals associated with roller derby events, including other roller derby teams. 

Stafford admitted that she fraudulently booked more than 525 plane tickets that caused a loss to United of between $400,000 and $1 million. Stafford also admitted that she received more than $50,000 in payment from the individuals or organizations who benefitted from the plane tickets. 


Wire fraud carries a maximum punishment of 20 years' imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. Stafford agreed to make restitution to United Airlines in an amount to be determined by the court. Judge Reeves will set a date for sentencing. 

Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, said Wednesday that the airline brought the matter to the attention of authorities and fully cooperated with the investigation.  

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, commended the investigation by FBI agents and Airport Police officers, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy S. Mangan, who is prosecuting the case.
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