Rave Promoters Rotella, Gerami Face Potential of 10 Years-Plus in Jail
Rotella, right, with his criminal attorney.
Leah Lee / Insomniac
The rave promoters indicted as part of the L.A. Coliseum corruption scandal could see more than 10 years each behind bars if convicted, an L.A. County District Attorney's office official tells the Weekly.
In fact the potential sentence for Reza Gerami of Go Ventures is 15 years, 8 months, according to D.A.'s spokeswoman Jane Robison. Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac Events, which has received more focus because a 15-year-old died of an ecstasy overdose after attending one of his Coliseum events, could see 13 years, 8 months behind bars:
That's serious time for a crime the promoters say they didn't commit.
The prosecution alleges that Gerami and Rotella paid Coliseum events manager Todd DeStefano on the side, knowing that they'd get paid back in other ways, including with steeply discounted rents ($25,000 for a multimillion-dollar production, in one case).
(Rotella's Electric Daisy Carnival in 2010 drew about 160,000 people over two days. Tickets cost up to $80 a piece).
The charges allege that, since 2008, the pair paid $1.8 million to DeStefano that should have gone to the Coliseum.
Rotella has said through his attorney that all his dealings with DeStefano were on the up-and-up -- essentially that he was led to believe DeStefano was representing the Coliseum at all times and that the rave promoters were as much a victim in this as anyone.
But the D.A.'s office has unleashed emails it says show that the promoters knew what they were doing was an end run around the Coliseum, which publicly owned and run by a state-county-city commission.
In a 1999 email from DeStefano to Gerami about his upcoming Together As One New Year's party, for example, the events manager says, according to the D.A.'s case:
L.A. County District Attorney
Rent will only be $25,000. [Assistant general manager] Ron [Lederkramer] isn't aware of that yet. I've already gotten it cleared by [Coliseum general manager] Pat [Lynch]. I was able to change the line items that we spoke of earlier. There will be a $60,000 wire that hits your account hopefully today. When it does I would like that immediately wired over into my account. Kym has all of my bank info. I'll give you a call later after. Glo confirms the wire has been sent out. Hopefully, you are bringing back the tickets today so we can get them counted and finalize this early next week. Give me a call with any questions brother. I'm heading over to LAPD for the ... brief from New Years at 1PM.
(The D.A.'s investigator describes this as a 2010 email, and the alleged scheme is said by prosecutors to have started in 2008, but the actual email, below, has a Jan. 14, 1999 date on it).
In another email provided by prosecutors, DeStefano lays out "the breakdown of partnership percentage" for a New Year's Eve rave co-promoted by Gerami and Rotella: Those two get 40 percent each and DeStefano's company would get 20 percent, according to the message to Rotella.
It says DeStefano's company would be "responsible for paying all rental fees" for the venue.
In other words, prosecutors say these kinds of documents confirm that the promoters knew they were making side payments that allegedly defrauded you, the taxpayer.
A statement two weeks ago from Rotella's attorney said, in part:
All transactions between Insomniac and the Coliseum were transparent and approved by the Coliseum General Manager, his staff and the attorneys representing the Coliseum.
Gerami's attorney, said, in part:
... Go Ventures followed all of the rules and procedures that it understood were either established or authorized by the Coliseum Commission.
For his part, DeStefano faces 25 years behind bars if convicted. All of the above have pleaded not guilty.
Former Coliseum manager Pat Lynch struck a plea bargain with the D.A.'s office that will keep him out of jail and put him on probation for three years. He'll also have to pay $385,000 in restitution.
This makes us think maybe he's singing like Tweety Bird on a summer day, which probably wouldn't bode well for the other defendants.
And the harsh-sounding potential sentences for the rave promoters might be a move on the D.A.'s part to get the rest of the suspects to make a deal.
Think they won't?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.