The attorney for Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto said today that former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette was merely getting rid of extra tickets to the 2004 World Series when he sold them to Ruberto at face value.
Speaking at a State Ethics Commission hearing underway in downtown Boston, attorney Leonard Cohen said two of Duquette's relatives told him in early October that they could not attend Game Two of the series with the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park.
Anxious not to lose money or see the tickets go unused, Duquette sold them to the mayor for $196 each, Cohen said. Cohen also said that neither Ruberto nor Duquette had a role in the city's decision to ultimately agree to let Duquette's minor league baseball team play in the city-owned Wahconah Park.
The Ethics Commission's Enforcement Division has alleged that Duquette sold Ruberto the tickets to win favor for the former Red Sox executive's minor league team, then known as the Berkshire Dukes.
The commission has alleged the tickets were more valuable than the actual purchase price. A top official from Ace Tickets, the ticket reselling company, told the hearing today that the World Series tickets were among the most sought after, ever.
"There was an incredible demand for tickets,'' said Matthew Freedman, director of purchasing for Ace Tickets."I've never seen anything like it. It was pretty much off the charts.''
Freedman said individual tickets were sold for between $2,000 and $3,000 during the series. He said the tickets Duquette sold to Ruberto were "top-quality tickets.''
The seats were in Section 12 Box 14, according to testimony.
James McGrath, former director of community services in Pittsfield, was questioned by Cohen for about an hour today. McGrath repeatedly testified that he was not pressured by anyone, including the mayor, to endorse Duquette's proposal that his team play at the park.
McGrath said he never spoke with Duquette until after his team was chosen.
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