A federal judge sentenced Jeff Tran, a former director of sports marketing at Microsoft, to 28 months in prison for wire fraud at the U.S. District Court in Seattle on Friday.
This past January, Tran pleaded guilty to wire fraud and attempting to steal more than $1.5 million from his former employer using stolen Super Bowl tickets and fake invoices.
In addition to the prison time, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez also fined Tran $50,000. Prosecutors previously recommended a maximum of three years in prison as part of the plea deal. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
During today’s hearing, the judge asked Tran why he stole the money. Tran said he was still trying to answer that question himself, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the guilty plea, Tran sold 75 game tickets and 99 tailgate tickets for a $250,000 profit during the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowl events. The tickets were meant to be distributed to Microsoft employees. In one transaction, he pocketed $12,400 after convincing a Microsoft colleague to buy tickets paid for by the company.
Tran, 45, also issued two fake invoices worth a combined $1,445,000, according to court records. The first, worth $775,000, was wired to Tran’s bank account. Tran attempted to route the second payment to a company he controlled called Tranmerica, Inc.
Microsoft began investigating Tran after third-party vendors raised the alarm over the second invoice. Tran oversaw Microsoft’s promotional relationship with the NFL, which includes the use of Microsoft Surface tablets on the sidelines during games and other marketing-related initiatives.
“When Tran stole from Microsoft, the company was already paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do a job most people would envy. Tran’s decision to steal when he already occupied a lucrative and privileged position makes his conduct more volitional, and the crime more reprehensible, than crimes committed by people who steal, deal drugs, or commit other crime to put food on the table,” prosecutors wrote when asking for the prison sentence.
Tran ultimately paid back $1,036,800 to Microsoft to cover the company’s losses.
Tran was originally indicted on five counts of wire fraud in October, four of which were thrown out as part of the deal. The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson.