The case against rave promoters in the L.A. Coliseum corruption scandal appears to be unraveling like a BOGO suit.
The District Attorneys office says electronic dance music festival organizers Insomniac and Go Ventures cheated taxpayers by paying a former Coliseum official nearly $2 million on the side. One of the key questions, though, is: for what?
The L.A. Coliseum Commission sued the promoters and lost. And now, a rep for Insomniac announced today, the commission has to pay $400,000 in attorneys' fees for its fruitless legal claims:
The civil case against the promoters, including Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella, was dismissed in August. (Added: The suit had sought to recover some of the money paid to the officials.)
The company's attorney, Gary Jay Kaufman, had this to say today:
We are very pleased that the Court awarded Insomniac the full amount of its attorneys' fees. This is just further confirmation of what we have maintained from day one: This lawsuit was ill-conceived, politically motivated and publicity-driven. Neither Insomniac nor Mr. Rotella did anything wrong and this lawsuit should never have been brought in the first place.
Unfortunately for Rotella and Go Ventures' chief Reza Gerami, both of whom organized events at the taxpayer-owned Coliseum and its sister venue, the L.A. Sports Arena, until they were shut out in 2011 following the ecstasy-related death of a 15-year-old girl who had sneaked into a 2010 event, there's still a criminal case pending.
Jury selection in that case starts Sept. 2, the L.A. District Attorney's office told us.
Prosecutors' petition to freeze the promoters' assets in connection with the case sums up the people's allegations:
Defendants Gerami and Rotella paid [ex-Coliseum events manager Todd] DeStefano in excess of $1.8 million in order to continue to hold the events they promoted at the Coliseum through contracts that DeStefano negotiated to the benefit of the promoters, thereby saving them significant sums of money, and to the detriment of the Coliseum, which lost revenue by the reduced costs as well as the payments diverted to DeStefano's personal business accounts. Rotella and Gerami paid DeStefano to directly lobby for them to save them at least $1 million by virtue of his position as a Coliseum insider who affected the contract for their events and the amount of rent paid to the Coliseum. Lynch became aware of the relationship and allowed it to continue.
Insomniac has argued that the money was paid to DeStefano for consulting work on events, which it says he conducted on his own time.
On top of that, the events organizer has said, there was no motive to allegedly pay a Coliseum official under-the-table at a time when the festivals were humming along with little resistance from public officials.