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L.A. Now Live: Should ticket scalpers be barred from L.A. venues?

August 10, 2012 |  8:30 am

Once victimized as a young man by a ticket scalper who sold him a phony ticket to a Los Angeles Lakers game, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich says his intent is now to put illegal ticket sellers "out of business."

Times reporter Richard Winton will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. today for a discussion about the city attorney's attempts to crack down on ticket scalpers by barring them from high-profile venues.

For years, prosecutors have used court injunctions to prevent gang members, drug dealers and even graffiti vandals from congregating in certain areas.

But now, Trutanich's office wants to use the powerful legal tool on a decidedly different target: ticket scalpers.

Trutanich filed court papers this week asking a judge to bar 17 prolific ticket scalpers from being anywhere near Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, the Nokia Theatre, the Coliseum and USC's Galen Center. Trutanich said the unusual injunction reflects how difficult it has been for law enforcement to clamp down on scalpers.

It is already a misdemeanor to sell tickets above face value or make such transactions on a public street. Police have tried aggressive enforcement during games and concerts, created special task forces and even used decoys to sniff out illicit sellers. Nothing, he said, seems to work.

"These scalpers rip off unsuspecting fans, hurt legitimate businesses and deprive the city of taxes owed to it, which ultimately harms all city residents," Trutanich said. "They make it more costly for all of us to cheer for our favorite teams."

The injunction puzzled some legal experts, who said restricting where people can be is a serious move that is commonly reserved for violent criminals.

"The problem here is they are trying to criminalize activities that would not otherwise be deemed harmful to people," said USC law professor Jody Armour. "These people aren't committing violent crimes.... How can it be in the public's interest to make it harder for them to find tickets?"

Armour and others said that the biggest beneficiaries of the injunction are likely to be the sports and entertainment venues themselves, who have long complained about scalpers. Indeed, USC and AEG, the owners of Staples Center, filed court declarations in support of Trutanich's injunction.