Trial asks if people knew tickets were hot

Sept. 6, 2009 at 10:07 PM
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SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- The Texas trial of five people in the theft of 5,600 tickets from Southwest Airlines has put others, including public officials, on the spot, officials said.

James Jackson, a former bailiff, and his wife, Althea, a Southwest employee, sold most of the tickets for $120 each, a federal probe revealed. The couple pleaded guilty to wire fraud and five of their frequent customers are on trial in Bexar County Court, the San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday.

Although the Jacksons began selling tickets in 2002, Southwest didn't know about the scheme until September 2005, when AT&T in San Antonio alerted the airline that hundreds of its tickets had been sold within the company, the newspaper said.

The probe revealed managers rubber-stamped Althea Jackson's requests for tickets. The tickets are normally reserved for inconvenienced customers and charity but Jackson convinced her customers she was a high-level employee who frequently got the tickets as a bonus.

Prosecutors question whether managers could have believed she got that many tickets, or whether people who bought the tickets -- including suspended Bexar sheriff's Deputy Mark Kedrowski -- should have known the transactions were not legitimate.

The tickets are stamped "Not For Resale/No Cash Value." Southwest officials say that means they cannot be sold under any circumstances, but lawyers for the defendants disagree and prosecutors say the stamp should have raised questions in customers' minds.

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