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Suspect in EDC wristband scheme blames ‘stupid, drunk talk’ in case

A former top security employee for the Electric Daisy Carnival arrested last weekend in connection with a counterfeit wristband scheme acknowledged Thursday that he gave confidential information to the "wrong person."

But he said he did so while he was in a drunken haze.

Arron Hernandez, 37, whose name was spelled wrong by Las Vegas police in a media release, said he spoke with Pathomrat Neil Kunawongse, 35, on June 19 at Aliante Station about fake wristbands. Hernandez said he allowed Kunawongse to leave the hotel room with a partial printout of the wristband credentials.

But he said he never thought Kunawongse, whom he knew as Neil, took the conversation seriously.

Hernandez said the next day he barely remembered having the conversation with Kunawongse and knew it was impossible for anyone to make counterfeit wristbands in less than a week.

The three-day music festival was at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting June 24. More than 200,000 electronic music fans attended.

"I’m not pointing the finger at Neil," Hernandez said. "It was stupid, drunk, man talk. I will take full responsibility for sharing information with the wrong person."

Hernandez worked as the festival’s assistant head of security.

Hernandez said he knew Kunawongse for about two years from Kunawongse’s work in the printing business. He described himself and Kunawongse as "ex-raver kids."

Police allege the plan could have netted the pair $1 million after tracking down an email from Kunawongse in which he wrote about selling 5,000 fraudulent wristbands at $200 each.

The email also contained a digital image of the wristband for the festival, police said.

Hernandez said when he and Kunawongse spoke, they never discussed how many fake wristbands would be made or how much they would sell them for.

"I was never trying to be a millionaire," he said.

Hernandez said that no fake wristbands were ever produced and that he and Kunawongse never exchanged money. Police said Kunawongse canceled the order for fake wristbands when he got word that others had heard of the plan.

But as a precaution, Hernandez said, he went around to security officials who worked the festival and told them that if fake wristbands were made, they would look a certain way.

Hernandez said he never went to his bosses about the possibility of fake wristbands because he was "too embarrassed."

Kunawongse, of Hacienda Heights, Calif., and Hernandez, of Corona, Calif., were both booked at the Clark County Detention Center on charges including obtaining money under false pretenses, attempted forgery and conspiracy to commit a crime. Kunawongse was also arrested on charges of burglary and possession of stolen property.

Hernandez contends that police have overcharged him.

Las Vegas police spokesman Bill Cassell said Hernandez will get his day in court.

"We are confident in the results of our investigation and the accuracy of our charges," Cassell said.

The pair’s arrest reports said counterfeiting is such a problem that Insomniac Inc., the company that put on the music festival, goes through an arduous process to secure their tickets.

The wristbands are made of cloth, and graphic designs change to make them hard to duplicate. Only a small group of employees are familiar with the design of wristbands until just prior to the opening of shows, the report said.

The counterfeit scheme was foiled by police with the help of Insomniac’s CEO Pasquale Rotella.

Hernandez, who has five children, said his arrest has cost him dearly.

"I will never work in this business again," Hernandez said. "It’s all I know."

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

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