A judge today dismissed four embezzlement charges against rave promoter Pasquale Rotella.
A grand jury indicted Rotella, fellow dance festival organizer Reza Gerami, and ex-L.A. Coliseum events manager Todd DeStefano on corruption charges, essentially alleging that the promoters paid DeStefano under the table for easy access to the publicly owned L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena:
The promoters have argued that the cash — the District Attorney's office says it was more than $1.8 million over a number of years — was paid to DeStefano's side companies for work done on his own time helping them organize parties, part of which were not on Coliseum-Sports Arena property near USC (namely, they took place in the adjacent parking lots).
Prosecutors said documents, including emails, proved that the promoters believed they were bribing DeStefano for smooth going and affordable rent at the public venues.
Today Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen A. Kennedy dismissed the foursome of counts against Rotella. Rotella's promotion company, Insomniac, issued this statement:
We are extremely pleased with the Court's ruling this morning. The ruling confirms what we've maintained from day one — that Mr. Rotella didn't steal a penny from the Coliseum — he paid money.
One count of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and one count of bribery are still on the table. Another court date was scheduled in December.
This summer, a civil suit by the Coliseum with allegations against the promoters that mirrored the criminal charges was essentially dismissed.
Raves at the Coliseum and Sports Arena brought in millions of dollars for the venues and happened four times a year thanks, in part, to DeStefano's alleged lobbying of the politically appointed Coliseum Commission.
The parties were kicked out of the venues in 2011 after a 15-year-old who had sneaked into Rotella's Electric Daisy Carnival overdosed on ecstasy, prompting outrage among some local leaders, including then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
After the bad press regarding Sasha Rodriquez's 2010 death, raves were in the hotseat, and the relationship between the promoters and DeStefano was revealed.
Rotella's signature event, Electric Daisy Carnival, moved to Las Vegas in 2011 and doubled in size.
His company, Insomniac Events, was the subject this year of a reported $50 million, 50 percent take by corporate concert giant Live Nation.
[Added at 8:58 p.m. Sunday]: Here's info on some of the other defendants, via City News Service:
DeStefano saw 11 felony counts of embezzlement by a public or private officer dismissed.
Fellow rave promoter Reza Gerami of Go Ventures saw seven counts of embezzlement dismissed.
DeStefano's case still contains five counts of conflict of interest. Former Coliseum technical manager Leopold Caudillo still faces once count of conflict of interest.
The defendants still face the following as well, according to City News:
Along with the conspiracy charge and the conflict of interest counts, DeStefano is facing trial on two counts of accepting a bribe and four other counts of embezzlement by a public officer or agent.
Gerami and Rotella are each facing the conspiracy count, along with a charge of bribing a public employee. Caudillo is charged only in the conflict of interest count.
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