HONOLULU, Hawaii – A North Carolina man who admitted defrauding the University of Hawaii of $200,000 by lying about being able to produce a Stevie Wonder fundraiser concert wants to take back his guilty plea, but a prosecutor said Thursday he could risk more jail time if he succeeds and is eventually convicted.
Marc Hubbard had been scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Honolulu Thursday but filed a motion to withdraw his plea a day earlier.
He pleaded guilty in 2016 to wire fraud, saying he lied about his ability to secure Wonder for a concert. In 2012, the university paid a $200,000 deposit, began selling tickets and then learned neither Wonder nor his representatives had authorized a show.
Thousands of tickets were refunded, embarrassing the school.
Details about why Hubbard wants to withdraw his guilty plea were not clear because his motion was sealed. Defence attorney William Harrison in a court hearing alluded to a “coercive nature” of Hubbard’s plea deal with authorities but did not provide details.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Wallenstein argued that Hubbard should not be allowed to take back his plea because nothing changed in the year and four months since he accepted the plea deal.
Wallenstein said a decision by Hubbard to plead not guilty could mean the end of the sentencing deal, which called for him to have his Hawaii sentence served at the same time as a six-and-a-half year sentence he received for a similar conviction in Pennsylvania.
Hubbard under the plea deal would likely be released after serving the Pennsylvania sentence, Wallenstein said, but faces an additional sentence of about six years without the deal.
“I hope Mr. Hubbard sees the folly of what he’s doing,” Wallenstein said.
Harrison had asked the judge to close Thursday’s hearing to the public, but U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi refused — saying there was no compelling reason to block courtroom access. She said portions of Hubbard’s plea request could be made public in the future but instructed Wallenstein not to discuss details.
Harrison said Hubbard believes he now has new evidence, which Kobayashi said he can submit in a fresh court filing.
Kobayashi postponed Hubbard’s sentencing and set a hearing for March to discuss whether he will be allowed to withdraw his plea.
Doing so will be an “uphill battle,” she said.