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News 8 Investigates

DALLAS -- Maximum Sports Connection of Dallas continues to push the limits in broken promises to sports fans and vendors.

Take, for instance, last year s Masters Golf tournament. Maximum agreed to donate a three-day package to the tournament to a National Kidney Foundation (NKF) charity auction, according to two officials familiar with the event. The package included three days of tournament passes, air tickets, and hotel.

A gentleman made a donation to win the trip, said Tommy Finn of PPI Marketing, who helped gather items for the event.

The bid for the package was $8,800. But when it came time to produce the trip, Maximum Sports reneged on its promise.

As it turns out, they simply refused to honor the commitment on the certificate, Finn said. The National Kidney Foundation had to pay out of its own pocket, officials say, to put together another Masters package.

Maximum Sports is owned by Ronni Sokol of Dallas. The company has a long history of broken commitments, most recently with Dallas Cowboys fans.

Hundreds of fans from all over the county bought packages to last year s Dallas Pittsburgh game, with prices beginning at $300 each. Just before the game, scores of fans, who had traveled literally from all over the world, were told by Sokol that the game had been oversold.

Weeks later, when the Super Bowl rolled around, Sokol auctioned tickets on eBay.

Rich Drgos of Pasadena, Maryland, bid $3,900 for a pair. Drgos said Sokol told him she got the tickets from the Dallas Cowboys Organization." Sokol told him the tickets were on their way via FedEx. One day stretched into another, and the tickets didn t arrive.

Panicked, Drgos, who d paid for the tickets via PayPal, canceled the order and got his money back.

I don t want to see this happen to anyone else, he said.

It s too late for the Irving Convention Center.

It rented Sokol space for a fan event in 2011. She wrote a check for more than $15,000. The check bounced, and has been delinquent for 17 months. Irving officials say she has paid $30 of the outstanding balance.

Sokol is expanding her business. She s allied with fan clubs in Phoenix, where she still has angry fans from the Dallas-Pittsburgh game.

In El Paso, she s started a store called The Fan Connection, which sells Cowboys gear and aims to bring players in for autograph parties. At a January event, hundreds of fans lined up to get autographs from Jay Ratliff and Lawrence Vickers. Ratliff didn t show. And Vickers, according to the store manager, hadn t been able to get a flight.

Sokol works from a PO Box in Dallas. Her former office on Luna Road is empty. An assistant who answered the Maximum Sports Connection's phone wouldn't reveal the new location. Sokol did not return a phone call.

Because her angry customers are spread out in a variety of legal jurisdictions, law enforcement officials have had difficulty investigating her.

She already is advertising packages for next year s Cowboys season.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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