APD Serves Up Felonies in ACL Wristband Sting

Offenders leased wristband to undercover cop

A bold ACL Fest wristband hustle ended with three men arrested for felonies on Saturday. According to arrest affidavits, the offenders essentially rented passes to the sold-out first weekend of the annual Zilker Park convergence, escorting their customers in, then removing the wristbands and repeating the process.

Zilker Park during weekend one of ACL Fest 2019 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

It probably seemed like a clever way to make thousands of dollars off a wristband. A three-day, general admission bracelet runs $260. It worked until an undercover Austin Police officer thwarted the scheme.

The arrest affidavits, authored by APD’s Marco Peña, detailed how the bust unfolded. Officers and detectives from the Organized Crime Division received information about a Craigslist advertisement selling ACL wristbands, then taking them back when the buyer got inside the gates.

The documents state that an undercover agent, “Officer Glass,” made contact with 33-year-old Michael Martin, who priced the deal at $150 and told him that he’d require a cell phone or ID as collateral until the wristband was returned. Another individual, 30-year-old Nathan Beck, allegedly took marked money and a cell phone from the officer. A third person, 24-year-old Cameron Beck, is said to have then escorted the undercover policeman, along with a group of other customers, into the festival grounds.

“Officer Glass observed Nathan and Cameron using small, green, plastic straws to defeat the clip on the wristband, so they could be loosened and reapplied to other persons,” notes the affidavit.

After the undercover officer got in and traded his wristband back for his cell phone, uniformed officers detained Cameron as well as a group of other customers the officer had entered with. Martin and Nathan Beck were soon spotted at the gate and arrested. The latter’s wallet allegedly held $1,108 at the time of the arrest, including $100 of marked money. Cameron Beck possessed $926.

All three men had on them green plastic straws. “Officer Glass” then called the number from the Craigslist ad and Beck’s phone began to ring, according to the affidavit. An employee of festival organizers C3 Presents provided APD with documentation of the activity of each of the confiscated wristbands. Among the six wristbands in possession, they’d collectively been through the entrance gates a total of 104 times.

l-r: Michael Joseph Martin, Cameron Daniel Beck, Nathan Daniel Beck (source: Austin Police Department)

“This document listed the minimum price for a general admission pass to be $105,” officer Peña wrote in the affidavit, referencing the single-day admission price. “Using this information, I calculated that C3 Presents should have received $10,920 in payment for 104 people to access the festival.”

Theft of Service between $2,500 and $30,000 is a state jail felony. The affidavit also says that because the situation involves three individuals, it meets the criteria of an Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity charge, which is a 3rd degree felony carrying a potential punishment of 2 to 10 years imprisonment.

The Chronicle has reached out to a public information officer at APD for confirmation.

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Austin Police Department, Marco Peña, C3 Presents, Nathan Beck, Cameron Beck, Michael Martin, ACL Fest 2019

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