Dallas concert promoter Gabe Reed pleaded guilty Monday morning to a federal charge for defrauding investors, promoters and performers who were investing in concerts and World Wrestling Entertainment events.
Reed, 46, admitted in court that he received money from victims after he misled them into believing that the events would occur. He told the Dallas Observer in June 2016 that “anyone that has ever worked with me on a tour or show has always been paid as agreed.”
But this week, he admitted in court that he used those funds to pay his personal expenses, including rent, utility bills and travel costs, instead of organizing and promoting the events as he promised.
For more than eight years, Reed represented himself as a promoter and organizer of rock concerts and wrestling events. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles say he solicited investors “by touting what he claimed were longstanding relationships with well-known musicians, showing props from alleged previous tours and fabricating records related to music events,” according to a Nov. 13 press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.
“To execute his scheme to defraud, [Reed] used sophisticated means, including but not limited to creating email addresses in the names of other individuals and entities to convince his victims that their funds were legitimately invested,” according to the plea agreement filed in federal court. “In addition, [Reed] produced and distributed to victims fraudulent and fabricated artist contracts, bank statements and correspondence.”
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Reed’s former partner Kendra Helms helped to bring him down. She turned on him after discovering he made false claims that Slayer’s Tom Araya and Megadeth’s former guitarist Marty Friedman would join a European tour Reed was hosting.
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"In my case, he thought he was dealing with some naive woman who he could take advantage of and run right over, but he was wrong once I found out what he was, and that is a fraud,” Helms told the Observer in May. "I have had enough experience dealing with men like him in the industry that I knew what to do and say to get a reaction, and I purposely did just that."
The wire fraud charge involved one Los Angeles victim who invested $100,000 for a 2016 concert tour called Titans of Rock. But many of the promised artists had not agreed to participate in Reed’s tour. It was just one of many instances the Observer has reported on in previous stories over the years.
As a result of his guilty plea, Reed faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in federal prison. The case against him is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Poonam Kumar of the major frauds section.