CBS-owned WFAN has suspended Craig Carton indefinitely after he was arrested by FBI agents over an alleged Ponzi scheme.
The FBI busted Carton, who is or was the co-host of the high-rated Boomer & Carton morning drive program on the New York City sports radio station, on Wednesday morning.
WFAN airs on 660 AM and 101.9 FM, as well as streaming on the Internet. The station reportedly paid Carton an annual salary of about $2 million.
Carton appeared in a Manhattan federal court Wednesday and was released on a $500,000 bond. He faces a variety of charges in the case, including securities fraud and wire fraud, as does a co-defendant. WFAN said it is cooperating with the authorities in the probe.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a separate civil lawsuit against Carton and another individual in connection with the same enterprise.
A father of four, Carton, 48, allegedly scammed investors as a way to pay off massive gambling debts, according to the New York Times.
“Federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused Mr. Carton and another defendant of running a kind of Ponzi scheme in which they solicited investments from victims, including a Manhattan hedge fund, that the two men said they would use to buy and sell concert tickets. The money was instead used to pay personal debts and earlier investors…Mr. Carton sought the investments last year around the time he also accrued millions of dollars’ worth of gambling debts to casinos and other parties.”
On the Boomer & Carton show this morning, former New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason said that he loves his 10-year radio partner and show “point guard” and his family and that he hopes that Carton lands on his feet.
He added that the four-hour, Monday-through Friday morning program must go on and will feature guest co-hosts until a permanent replacement is selected, assuming that turns out to be necessary. Esiason was joined by fill-in Phil Simms, the former New York Giants QB, on this morning’s edition.
Parenthetically, perhaps the first U.S. radio station to go all sports 24-7, WFAN has another key vacancy to address. Longtime afternoon drive host Mike Francesa (now broadcasting solo but previously part of the Mike and the Mad Dog tandem) says he’s retiring in December. WFAN launched on July 1, 1987 on 1050 AM and moved to 660 on AM radio dial on October 7, 1988, replacing WNBC. It expanded its platform to FM on November 1, 2012.
The Carton concert-ticket venture allegedly received $4.6 million from the Brigade Capital Management hedge fund, according to Sports Illustrated. “It’s not entirely clear from the SEC suit or a parallel criminal complaint also filed today against Carton and Michael Wright, a New Jersey-based strip club executive and an alleged co-conspirator, why Brigade failed in vetting Carton and [Joseph] Meli.”
As the arrest of WFAN host Craig Carton is a developing story, be sure to watch this space for updates.
[Featured Image by John Minchillo/AP Images for NFL]