Rave Promoters Accused of Bribery Pay Up

EDC at the Coliseum in 2009
EDC at the Coliseum in 2009
Timothy Norris/L.A. Weekly

Rave promoters accused of public corruption and bribery have sent checks to L.A. County officials in the amount of $180,000, according to county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The money is plea-deal restitution in a case involving allegations that Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac Events and Reza Gerami of Go Ventures paid a manager of the publicly owned L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena complex under the table to facilitate their DJ-driven parties.

Those allegations ultimately were dropped in favor of an agreement under which the promoters pleaded no contest to misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charges and agreed to pay up. Rotella agreed to pay $150,000; Gerami $30,000.

A key question was whether the party organizers really received anything for the more than $1.8 million they paid collectively to Coliseum manager Todd DeStefano from 2008 to 2010 for his outside help in getting events off the ground. The raves were charged $25,000 rent — plus the venue took some concessions — while other concerts, including one by Bruce Springsteen, were allowed to take place rent-free.

A motion to dismiss charges against Rotella in 2013 argued that payments to DeStefano's firm were for "honest services outside the scope of his duties."

DeStefano pleaded no contest to felony conflict of interest. As part of a plea deal, he was expected to pay $500,000 to the county and serve a six-month jail sentence.

The corruption case erupted after the 2010 ecstasy death of a 15-year-old, Sasha Rodriguez, who had sneaked into Rotella's Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum. Politicians questioned whether such events should be held at taxpayer-owned venues, and EDC decamped for Las Vegas in 2011.

Today, Ridley-Thomas said the promoters' restitution would go to the L.A. Coliseum Commission, which ultimately oversees the Coliseum and Sports Arena, because it "suffered financial losses as a result of Rotella and Gerami’s illegal actions," according to his office.

"Fairness and equality mandate that all of the restitution paid by the criminal defendants in this case be returned to the commission, which is the clear victim of the alleged crimes,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who serves as president of the Commission. "The shame brought to the Coliseum Commission by the rampant criminal acts of former employees and vendors cannot be overstated. The Coliseum Commission is determined to bring all unlawful actors to justice and make them pay every stolen dollar back to the public."

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