By Andrew Blankstein and Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
November 11, 2011
Los Angeles County authorities have raided the offices and home of a concert promoter as part of a widening investigation into a financial scandal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, The Times learned Thursday.
Armed with search warrants, the district attorney investigators seized computers and documents from Go Ventures Inc. in West Hills and the Malibu residence of its chief executive, Reza Gerami, said an official with knowledge of the probe who was not authorized to speak about the matter. The investigators have been examining the company's payments to firms run by a former Coliseum manager who had helped oversee Go Venture's rave concerts at the stadium complex.
District attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison confirmed that the searches took place but declined to provide more details.
The Times has reported that Go Ventures paid about $876,000 to the firms founded by Todd DeStefano, then the Coliseum's events manager. The firms also received about $800,000 in payments last year from concert promoter Insomniac Inc., and tens of thousands in outlays from other companies that did business with the publicly owned Coliseum and companion Sports Arena.
Last week, the Coliseum's governing commission and its nonprofit concession arm sued DeStefano, his three firms, Go Ventures and Insomniac, seeking recovery of the money the companies paid to DeStefano's firms, as well as unspecified damages.
Gerami said Thursday that he and his company have done nothing wrong. In staging the concerts, Gerami said, he did everything that DeStefano, as a Coliseum manager, told him to do.
"The person who got ripped off was me," he said. "If there was foul play on the expenses, it worked against me. I was the victim."
The lawsuit also named DeStefano's wife, who was listed in state records as an officer or manager in his firms, and former Coliseum general manager Patrick Lynch. It demands that Lynch return payments totaling nearly $395,000 that he received in regular installments from a Coliseum contractor. Lynch's attorney has said the money involved a private boat transaction between his client and the contractor and had nothing to do with the Coliseum.
About five months ago, district attorney investigators searched DeStefano's and Lynch's homes; Insomniac's offices and the residence of its top executive, Pasquale Rotella; and several banks. Rotella's attorney has said his client is not a target of the investigation.
Based on records and interviews, The Times has reported that DeStefano's firms collected at least $1.8 million from the rave promoters, film productions, stadium vendors and other enterprises that had business before the Coliseum Commission. Lynch approved DeStefano's side dealings with Insomniac, and transferred title of a commission-bought Cadillac to himself, the records and interviews show.
Another former Coliseum manager, while employed by the commission, directed stadium business to a company he founded with a co-worker, according to material obtained under the California Public Records Act. In addition, Lynch, DeStefano, Coliseum finance director Ronald Lederkramer and other then-employees of the stadium billed the commission for thousands of dollars in luxury car expenses, gasoline purchases and other perks, including massages.
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