Rio police expand scalping probe of Irish Olympic Council
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The man named to head Ireland's Olympic committee after its president was arrested in a ticket-scalping case during the Rio Games is also suspected of participating in the scheme but left Brazil before he could be questioned, police said Tuesday.
Authorities said William O'Brien, who took responsibility for the Irish committee after Patrick Hickey was detained last week, departed from Brazil one day before authorities obtained a warrant to seize his passport and mobile devices in a Sunday raid.
"There are a lot of messages mentioning William O'Brien along with Patrick Hickey," Aloysio Falcao, one of the investigators in the case, said after a news conference.
Falcao said Brazilian investigators will be requesting help from the Irish government.
Hickey, president of the Olympic Council of Ireland and a member of the International Olympic Committee's executive board, is being held in Rio's Bangu prison complex as the investigation expands.
Charged with conspiracy, ticket scalping and ambush marketing, Hickey is accused of plotting with other members of the Ireland committee and two companies to sell tickets above face value in a scheme that authorities say could have netted about $3 million in profits. More than 1,000 tickets have been seized in the investigation.
Authorities say the Irish company Pro 10 Sports Management was created to facilitate the transfer of tickets between that country's committee and an unauthorized vendor called THG Sports that would sell them for high fees disguised as hospitality services. THG Sports was accused of a similar scheme in the World Cup.
Investigators determined last week that the choice of Pro 10 as the authorized ticket reseller for Ireland was a joint decision by the Irish committee.
On Sunday, hours before the Rio Games' closing ceremony, police executed search warrants at the Olympic Village to seize passports and other items from three members of the Ireland committee, including Ireland team leader Kevin Kilty, chief executive Stephen Martin and secretary-general Dermot Henihan. Police confiscated 228 tickets for the ceremony from Kilty's room.
Henihan appeared at police headquarters Tuesday to answer questions. Investigators said they had ruled out his involvement in the alleged scheme, saying there was no evidence.
Kilty and Martin had been expected to also testify Tuesday, but officials said their lawyers had asked for a postponement to have more time to review documents in the case.
The investigation has been unfolding since the Olympics began Aug. 5, when the head of THG Sports was arrested with tickets allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland.
The council declined to comment Tuesday.