The owners of a ticket-brokerage business who used computer programs to buy 1.5 million tickets online have avoided jail time and received probation for their roles in the operation, according to Bloomberg. The indictments were handed out in March 2010.

Kenneth Lowson and Kristofer Kirsch, who operated Wiseguy Tickets, Inc., were sentenced Thursday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, to two years of probation and 300 hours of community service after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Lowson also has to forfeit $1.225 million.

Faisal Nahdi, a co-conspirator, remains at large, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office press release. Joel Stevenson, who the Attorney's Office calls the operation's "chief U.S.-based programmer," pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and received one year's probation.

Wiseguy Tickets used aliases, shell corporations, fake Internet domains and thousands of email addresses in the scams. To circumvent restrictions aimed at preventing resellers from buying up tickets, the defendants used programs called bots to gain unauthorized access to computers and effectively cut in front of regular consumers to buy tickets to concerts (Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, "Hannah Montana" and Billy Joel, among others), live theater, sporting events and other live events in cities across the U.S.

"The use of these bots is illegal, it violates our terms of use, and it is on the rise," wrote Ticketmaster in a post at its Ticketology blog. "Worst of all, these bots prevent you from getting a fair shot at tickets to the event you want to see live."

The fact that they paid face value for all 1.5 million tickets probably worked to the defendants' advantage. "There was no amount of loss here" because the defendants' company paid full price for the tickets, noted Lowson's attorney after the court handed down the penalties. Nor was there a clear line separating right from wrong. The judge in the case called the entire area of law "gray," according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger.