Sexy Sadie/Ticket to Ride
June 3, 2010 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Mercedes Stafford is the former president of the Cincinnati Roller Girls. She skated under the name 'Sadistic Sadie,' and won the 2009 Most Valuable Skater award. She was the Women's Flat Track Derby Association's Featured Skater in May 2010. On June 1, she pleaded guilty to airline-ticket wire fraud. Between 2007 and 2009, while she worked for United Airlines, she stole $400,000 worth of airline tickets, then sold them to her friends and family, a group that included some roller-derby folks, and pocketed around $50,000. After her plea, the WFTDA removed her Featured Skater page from their site.
posted by box (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
What's really fraudulent is flat track roller derby.
posted by docgonzo at 8:33 AM on June 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


oh, how the mighty have fallen
posted by Mach5 at 8:38 AM on June 3, 2010


So? Nobody knows you when you're down and out. I'd say this qualifies.
posted by LiliaNic at 8:39 AM on June 3, 2010


docgonzo: Banked tracks are expensive to build and maintain, and require dedicated space. Flat-track derby has far more flexible venue requirements, and its development is the only reason modern roller derby exists at all. If you think it's less exciting, that's your prerogative, but there are thousands of skaters and fans that seem to suggest otherwise.

Also: This is a shame.
posted by pts at 8:42 AM on June 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


She was the Women's Flat Track Derby Association's Featured Skater in May 2010

That way she could avoid charges of banking fraud.
posted by hal9k at 8:47 AM on June 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


If you think it's less exciting, that's your prerogative, but there are thousands of skaters and fans that seem to suggest otherwise.

All it suggests is that the level of excitement is above their minimum threshold. It provides no evidence about the relative excitement vs banked tracks.
posted by DU at 8:47 AM on June 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


flat track roller derby is a real sport. banked track roller derby had a lot of WWF / WWE style antics in it. None of that happens in women's flat track roller derby. Well, beyond Sadistic Sadie's extracuricular crimes.
posted by garlic at 8:48 AM on June 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sure Sadistic Sadie nom de plume will serve her well in prison. Me-ow.

What a stupid crime to do to wind up in jail or 20 years skating around the prison yard.
posted by stormpooper at 8:50 AM on June 3, 2010


I'm not really sure what the ticket theft has to do with the roller derby.
posted by contraption at 8:51 AM on June 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Uh, Go Gotham Girls?

But seriously, it sucks that she did this.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 8:51 AM on June 3, 2010


We've got a flat-track league in our area. I've never seen bank-track derby, but I know flat-track is a whole lot more fun than the no-derby-at-all we'd be seeing if bank-track were the only thing around.
posted by echo target at 8:52 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew a girl who broke into cars and stole stuff all the time in high school. She also liked swimming. True story.
posted by Babblesort at 8:57 AM on June 3, 2010 [17 favorites]


The Cincinnati Rollergirls have issued a statement.

One thing I'm kinda curious about: over two years, she sold $400,000 worth of plane tickets--over 500 tickets--to teammates and other derby folk for $50,000. This suggests that there were more than a few people who bought plane tickets from a private citizen for far less than face value. Weren't any of these people suspicious?
posted by box at 8:58 AM on June 3, 2010


All it suggests is that the level of excitement is above their minimum threshold.

Oh, okay. Thanks for clearing that up! ♥
posted by pts at 9:10 AM on June 3, 2010


This suggests that there were more than a few people who bought plane tickets from a private citizen for far less than face value. Weren't any of these people suspicious?

They bought tickets from a private citizen who they knew personally and who worked for the company issuing the tickets. Even if you've never asked for/allowed a friend to abuse their employer's discount policies for your benefit, you must be aware that it happens pretty frequently. I'm sure most of these people just imagined that they were being sold tickets at the employee rate and assumed it was an infraction of corporate policy, not wire fraud.
posted by contraption at 9:12 AM on June 3, 2010


Weren't any of these people suspicious?

Depends. I've bought companion tickets from a friend whose sister worked for an airline. It never occurred to me that the sister was perhaps stealing, and as far as I know, she wasn't.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on June 3, 2010


Or what contraption said.
posted by rtha at 9:15 AM on June 3, 2010


One thing I'm kinda curious about: over two years, she sold $400,000 worth of plane tickets--over 500 tickets--to teammates and other derby folk for $50,000. This suggests that there were more than a few people who bought plane tickets from a private citizen for far less than face value. Weren't any of these people suspicious?

It's not like she was selling the tickets to strangers out of the back of a van.

My aunt has worked in ticketing for a major airline for several decades, and she gets a handful of tickets every year that she can use for whatever purpose. The airline has policies about exactly who employees can give these tickets to. Post-9/11 this was severely cut back to essentially immediate family, but prior to that I had made use of these tickets on a few occasions. These days, she mostly uses them to go on nice vacations with her daughters.

If some friend of mine worked for an airline, and then offered to sell me tickets she wasn't planning on using herself, or promised an "employee discount" or something, I'd probably just be glad to have a hook-up.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 9:15 AM on June 3, 2010


imagined that they were being sold tickets at the employee rate

You're probably right, contraption. I don't know why I didn't think of that.
posted by box at 9:15 AM on June 3, 2010


Could've been worse, she could have been charged with forging hip checks. Then she'd really have been in a jam.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:19 AM on June 3, 2010 [9 favorites]



flat track roller derby is a real sport. banked track roller derby had a lot of WWF / WWE style antics in it. None of that happens in women's flat track roller derby. Well, beyond Sadistic Sadie's extracuricular crimes.


My sister-in-law skates banked-track. The presence of "antics" doesn't make it non-athletic. You don't have to like it, but you don't have to insult it, either.
posted by liketitanic at 9:23 AM on June 3, 2010


After her plea, the WFTDA removed her Featured Skater page from their site.

And Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:27 AM on June 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've been to both banked track and flat track tournaments (paying full ticket price despite my personal connections to the participants) and thoroughly enjoyed both. My understanding is that banked tracks are scarce enough that many (most?) banked track organizations also field flat track teams, so any perceived rivalry between the two variants is probably the invention of overzealous fans.
posted by contraption at 9:29 AM on June 3, 2010


I think rivelry is more the current WFTDA fighting against the image that people have of the 70's version of derby. They focus more on the sport aspect of derby than had happened in past leagues interested in selling TV rights. I know nothing of current banked track leagues and didn't even know they existed until reading about them in these comments.
posted by garlic at 9:38 AM on June 3, 2010


This group is my nearest banked track organization, and their level of theatrics seems pretty much on par with the flat track league in my town, albeit with their own big space and correspondingly bigger budget. That is to say, they've got the funny names and the crazy outfits and a disco ball hung over the track, but the athleticism absolutely comes first.
posted by contraption at 9:52 AM on June 3, 2010


even high schools leave pics of alleged murderers in the yearbook.
posted by msconduct at 9:52 AM on June 3, 2010


I know nothing of current banked track leagues

Okay, then.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on June 3, 2010


> What's really fraudulent is flat track roller derby.

Oh, woe! For we skate at your pleasure, docgonzo.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:06 AM on June 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm the treasurer of our roller derby league, and I can understand how this can happen.

Travel is one of the most expensive endeavors a league will undertake - hotels, airline fees (or gas and mileage) for 15-20 people - it adds up. Some leagues will cover travel expenses for the players (ours does, to a point) but a lot don't. Sometimes the team you are visiting will provide you with a travel stipend, but it never covers all the costs.

So you've got women who have trouble affording monthly dues (for uniforms, insurance, practice space rental, etc., etc.) who suddenly may need to pony up MORE money to buy an airline ticket.

If one of your fellow skaters says "hey, I can get plane tickets at a discount through my work - you'd just need to pay me back", you'll probably not question the legality of it, you'll just say "AWESOME, hook me up!"
posted by Lucinda at 10:09 AM on June 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, banked skaters fall on plywood. How pussy is that? Plywood? CONCRETE, MOTHERFUCKERS!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:11 AM on June 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah. I wasn't even aware that banked track teams still even existed. (But my knowledge is pretty much limited to the Gotham Girls.)
posted by Navelgazer at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2010


The whole current roller derby resurgence started with TXRD, the banked track league down in Austin. The first flat track league split off of them - and ended up becoming more popular because it's so much easier and cheaper to make a track by taping one off on a floor than having to build a banked one. But they exist, and are also growing in number, albeit a lot more slowly. Heck, Seattle's Tilted Thunder Rail Birds has been working to raise the money for a track for a while - and this is in a city where the flat track league, Rat City, is pulling crowds of 5000+ at Key Arena.
posted by evilangela at 10:42 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


what Lucinda said.

I know a couple of the Denver Roller Dolls, and both of them are normal, everyday moms who just happen to skate (and enjoy) derby. The entire DRD organisation seems to me (as an outsider) to be run on a string. And the demographic of most skaters I know tends to field from the hip, urban, liberally educated (is that even a demographic? hell I dunno, I guess it is now that I made it up) 25-35 set who are likely not making huge bank at their day jobs. The one DRD I know works part time at a nonprofit, the other's in grad school. So yea, they're not wealthy either.

They already spend a ton on stuff like uniforms and equipment and so on... the grad student also happens to be the volunteer seamstress for their team kit, apparently because it got so expensive to buy stuff off the rack. The girls pay for fabric, and that's it. Lot of this stuff is done on a shoestring.

It's like "pro" women's cycling - I think none of these gals get paid much of anything, if at all. Maybe in gear, yea maybe some travel stipends, maybe some sponsorships or whatnot. But the bulk of their passion comes out of pocket. And if you're a college student, working mom, or doing nonprofit work at ~$15K annually, having to string the rest of your expenses together gets to be a pretty thin budget. So for sure I can see that if someone said "hey I can get you plane tix at employee discount" or something like that, I myself wouldn't question the source too closely.

Also, if it weren't for flat-track leagues, I wouldn't even know roller derby existed in the modern age. So there's that (anec)datapoint, too.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:46 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew a girl who broke into cars and stole stuff all the time in high school. She also liked swimming. True story.
Pffft slim jim and swim suit or it didn't happen.
If you said you knew a girl who embezzled and liked swimming, maybe. Or a guy who molested children and was also a model train enthusiast

To be fair, there's no way the Human Resources department at United Airlines could see this coming from someone with a moniker like 'Sadistic Sadie.' Some whip action, maybe.
But that could be covered under the right kind of health care plan.
Perhaps if she were called 'Swindling Sadie' or 'Stealin' Sadie'
McDonald's cheeseburgers and nuggets before an athletic competition, gah. Spastic colon Sadie.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:33 PM on June 3, 2010


Every time I see Roller Derby advertised, I always think, Hey, didn't I collect that card when I was a kid?

I'm always amazed at how easy this stuff seems to be. I mean, someone cheats you out of $400,000 and you don't notice for two years?
posted by madajb at 1:36 PM on June 3, 2010


You don't have to like it, but you don't have to insult it, either.

Not specifically insulting banked track versus flat, but this roller derby thing has been gaining momentum down under, and I can't help but drop it straight into the "latest douchenozzle hipster fad" bucket.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:16 PM on June 3, 2010


*ducks*
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:17 PM on June 3, 2010


I dunno, UbuRoivas. I think you could help but do that, but instead you're just choosing to be dismissive and inflammatory by dropping the h-bomb, there.

Fortunately, your evaluation is not desperately important to the athletes and fans of this sport.
posted by pts at 9:50 PM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I suppose I should go & watch some before passing judgement. And they're really more gothabilly than hipster.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:06 PM on June 3, 2010


I can't speak for Sydney, but I can assure you that in North America, no self-respecting hipster would be caught dead at a roller derby bout in this day and age ("dude, that's so 2007! Sure, I guess it was kind of cool before the movie, when they had the penalty wheels and spanking and shit...").

For what it's worth, I'll be attending a panel discussion about roller derby at a science fiction convention next month. I expect to see more skaters at Con than at any local music festival or fixed-gear rally...
posted by nicepersonality at 8:13 AM on June 4, 2010


Uburoivas, you'd do well to take the time to at least learn more about it before making such judgments. I'm not sure how it could count as a "hipster fad" the way it's been growing year after year, play level is only going up, and attendances are increasing pretty much everywhere. How many hipsters are going to put in the significant time and effort investment needed to develop the fitness, skills, and knowledge to play what is truly real sport with more danger of injury than most sports?

You don't even need to go attend a bout locally - DerbyNewsNetwork has video archives of a number of bouts, such as this Rat City (Seattle) vs Rose City (Portland) bout.

You don't do derby because it's "cool" - you do it because you love it, because that's the only way you can justify the time, cost, and effort involved. I'm just working on learning everything I need to make a team, and it's already bigger than everything else in my life short of work.
posted by evilangela at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2010


Eh, I guess I just have a knee-jerk reaction to what appears very much to be a 'scene', in the photo I linked above.

The athletes in America may be more diverse, but I bet I could pick to about 90% accuracy which shops these girls shop at (Dangerfield, roughly equivalent to Hot Topic), which bands they follow (eg ironic love of Johnny Cash, in particular when he does that Depeche Mode cover), which bars they go to (all inner-city, these women ain't suburban), exactly what kinds of ironic metal tattoos they have (especially Mexican day-of-the-dead themed ones), the fact that every single one is guaranteed to have Betty Page posters on her walls, and the de rigeur fanboyism for Deus ex Machina custom bikes and any kind of restored American '50s car.

I'm stereotyping heavily, but that's only because I live in the epicentre of this subculture, so it's quite a familiar kind of scene to me - hell, one of the roller derby girls was killed just up the road recently.

When adherence to a particular subcultural look is apparently a prerequisite for getting into a sport, then I'll continue to call it a fad. It's like if suddenly ten-pin bowling on unicycles started gaining in popularity, but the only people taking part were rude boys; you'd really have to start questioning.

In the midst of all this patronising talk & stereotyping, I realised that I would've thought this was the bees' knees back when I was an 18yo goth, so I guess I'm just wishing them off my lawn more than anything else.

Also, when is somebody going to start a rollerball cricket competition, like they had in The Goodies? I'd pay to see that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:21 PM on June 4, 2010


expounding on your stereotyping from that photo is a dick move, and all the hate on mefi for hipster's seems like its actually hate for 'young people today'.
posted by garlic at 7:22 AM on June 5, 2010


yep, that's what the self-deprecating "wishing them off my lawn" bit was referring to - the old fart who gets annoyed at whatever the youth of today are up to: "you kids, get off my lawn!"

but really, the more things change, the more they stay the same, which is why it's so enjoyable to see the kids doing the exact same kinds of things as you used to do yourself not all that long ago; it's a kind of nostalgia, but without all the wardrobe expense that goes along with actually taking part.

particularly fun is when you make a mental note like "I *bet* that 'Amy' and 'Betty' are going to be all over this roller derby thing as soon as they find out about it" based entirely on the way they dress, and - !SURPRISE! - one or two months later they're both suddenly twittering and facebooking about it as though it's been a natural part of their persona since before their parents were born, and so far it's a strike rate of 100% of people with one particular look, and 0% of the people who dress in different styles who've gotten into this thing.

it's a small sample size, though. i'm still holding out for updates from 'Clare' & co, before solidifying the theory that rollerderby is the new trapeze, which was the new burlesque, which was the new hula hooping...*ow*, my rheumatism is bad today. where's my lumbago poultice?

posted by UbuRoivas at 1:26 PM on June 5, 2010


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