“I’m guilty only of really, really bad judgment," former New York City radio host Craig Carton tells Nick Paumgarten of the New Yorker. The feds, however, saw it as conspiracy, wire fraud, and security fraud, and the fallen WFAN personality just got sentenced to more than three years in prison. The story details the case and ticket-brokering business that brought down Carton—"a Ponzi scheme" to pay gambling debts, writes Paumgarten—but it also provides an interesting look at his shock-jock career, his successful WFAN pairing with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, and the compulsive gambling habit that spelled his doom. “I made some really stupid decisions, and those decisions, over a very small amount of time, have now changed my life forever,” Carton says. "I'm essentially bankrupt."
Carton says his gambling problem had been in check for a decade until he off-handedly dared Esiason on the air in 2014 to put up $10,000. Carton promised to turn it into $25,000 in one night on the blackjack tables of Atlantic City. Esiason put up the money, and Carton delivered on the promise. He says wealthy listeners then began offering big sums of their own. “Another way of putting it is that he began taking out short-term personal loans of as much as half a million dollars, at ten-per-cent interest," writes Paumgarten. "Carton thought of these as investments, and of his gambling as a business, but it’s hard to imagine that the investors saw them that way." Things spiraled, and the numbers are staggering: Though Carton was pulling in a salary of $2.5 million from WFAN, he borrowed more than $30 million between 2016 and 2017. Read the full story. (Read more Longform stories.)