Some of the assets of Pasquale Rotella and Reza Gerami, rival promoters who held electronic dance music parties at the Coliseum and L.A. Sports Arena next door, were frozen after they were charged with embezzlement in a case that essentially accuses the duo of paying a Coliseum manager venue fees on the side.
Today a judge said that ...
... Rotella could have access to $300,000 of his otherwise frozen cash ($1.7 million) and that Gerami could have $60,000 of his locked-up assets ($372,624).
Attorneys for the defendants have claimed that Coliseum events manager Todd DeStefano took the payments and was responsible for what was done with them.
Rotella's lawyer, Gary Kaufman:
No one has ... ever had any of their assets frozen as a result of monies they paid (to someone else).
Still, frozen they (mostly) remain.
The case against the promoters stems to 2008 when, prosecutors say, the duo began paying DeStefano what ultimately amounted to $1.8 million on the side -- money they argue should have gone to the publicly run Coliseum.
The two are also charged with bribery.
The scandal blew up last year after the Los Angeles Times noticed, as did we, the coziness Rotella and his promotion company, Insomniac Events, had with Coliseum management.
At the time he was lobbying hard to keep his events at the Coliseum and its sister venue, the L.A. Sports Arena. A 15-year-old girl died of an ecstasy overdosing after attending Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival in the summer of 2010, prompting officials such as L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to question the wisdom of allowing raves at the venues.
The Times reported that DeStefano has been running a couple of side businesses that allegedly took payments from companies holding events at the Coliseum.
Whether or not, however, the money handed over by the rave promoters was simply for DeStefano's moonlighting -- or if they believed that he was taking the payments in his role as a Coliseum official -- remains to be seen.