Joseph Steven Escaler

Hillsborough County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Three brothers from Louisiana pulled a fast one on a man they say sold them fake tickets to root for Alabama during the national championship game against Clemson in Tampa.

Police arrested Joseph Steven Escaler, 20, of Tampa on counts of fraudulent possession of admission tickets and grand theft.

Bryant Gentry, 29, told The Tampa Bay Times that he and his brothers paid $2,000 the day before the game for two tickets that turned out to be counterfeit.

They called police but then concocted a plan, using a different email account, to arrange a second purchase. The scalper agreed to meet one of the brothers to sell him a ticket to Monday night's game hours before kickoff.

As they began the transaction, the customer's two brothers came up from behind, pinning Escalera to a chair and taking his shoes, socks and six game tickets tucked inside his waistband.

It took police 10 minutes to arrive. It's a good thing they came quickly, Gentry said. The only thing keeping Escalera in his chair was the Coca-Cola bottle pressed to his head.

"All these people had gathered around watching and I kept yelling 'This guy sold us fake tickets, we're not robbing him,'" said Gentry, who had hoped to be spending that evening cheering on the University of Alabama taking on Clemson University.

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By the time Tampa Police arrested Escalera and took the brothers' statements, the three had to rush back to their hotel to catch the kickoff from a lobby TV, Gentry said. They watched the game with other fans who weren't able to snag a ticket, and eventually had some pizzas delivered.

They did not get back the $2,000 they gave to Escalera.

Still, what police recovered that day confirmed to the brothers that their time was well spent, they said. Not only were the six tickets they found on Escalera counterfeit, but 24 additional fake tickets were found in his hotel room, along with $1,700 cash.

"The loss of the game still hurts, but we got him and maybe that stopped someone else from losing money," Gentry said.


Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.),