Boomer Esiason said he was "saddened" by Craig Carton's conviction and called his former sidekick's downfall "a cautionary tale."
"For anybody out there who's ever had anybody in their life who has dealt with any sort of addiction — drugs, alcohol, gambling — this is a cautionary tale of how your life can spiral out of control," Esiason said Thursday morning on WFAN in his first public comments since his co-host’s guilty verdict, "and how it can affect so many around you, including your own family, the people that you work with and the people that you try to do business with on the outside."
It took a Manhattan jury less than five hours to find Carton guilty of a Ponzi scheme that revolved around a bogus plan to sell concert tickets on the secondary market.
The former WFAN host spent investors' money — over $4 million — to help cover gambling debts, among other expenses.
"I think all of us are saddened by the news, and we had held out hope that Craig would somehow find his way out of what he got himself into," Esiason said a day after the verdict was announced. "There are victims in this case. I don't want to in any way, shape or form take away from what they've had to deal with over the last 14 months (since Carton's arrest). There were people that were asked to go on the stand and testify. Their character was called into question. Their reputation was called into question. And on behalf of those folks, I hope this gives them closure."
Prosecutors proved that the acid-tongued radio star had manipulated emails to convince investors to fund his plan to sell tickets to concerts — ranging from Metallica to Barbra Streisand — at Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum on the secondary market.
"I wasn't shocked," Esiason said about hearing the news of the guilty verdict. "I was saddened. I was saddened for his family. I will miss Craig. I have missed Craig. But the show here goes on."
Esiason — the former Bengals and Jets quarterback who has had a successful second act as a top media personality — sat side-by-side with Carton on the popular "Boomer & Carton" morning show for 10 years. The show was initially re-branded as "The Morning Show with Boomer" in September 2017 after Carton resigned to focus on his legal woes. Gregg Giannotti eventually took over Carton's old chair in November and the morning show was renamed “Boomer and Gio.”
Longtime WFAN producer Al Dukes tried to offer up a defense of Carton.
"Having known Craig for 12 years or so, maybe even longer, he was not a bad person," Dukes said.
"He was selling people fake tickets, he wasn't ripping off your 401K," Dukes added, alluding to infamous convicted Ponzi schemer, Bernie Madoff. "What he did was wrong, 100 percent, but there's this misconception of what his crime really was and what he was doing."
Dukes also claimed that no one at the station had any clue what Carton was really up to off the air.
WFAN's update guy Jerry Recco said he felt a "little sense of responsibility" as he recalled fun nights gambling at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City.
"There was a sense of depression (Wednesday)," Recco said. "I expected the verdict, I was not surprised by it and yet at the same time when it happened, my first reaction was to shut my phone off, which I did and boy I’m glad I did because what I woke up to this morning made me want to vomit.
“I do feel a little sense of responsibility that I kind of aided him in a path that was just bad. I didn't know it was as bad as it was."
Carton faces up to 45 years on charges of wire fraud and securities fraud, though it’s expected that he will be sentenced to much less.