Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel is dispatching a team of auditors to pore over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s books because of a financial scandal that is already the subject of a criminal investigation.
Greuel had been prepared to launch the wide-ranging audit in July but shelved it at the request of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley’s office, which is conducting the criminal probe. Prosecutors said they were concerned that an audit could hinder their inquiry.
A spokeswoman for Greuel said the two agencies have since found a way to cooperate, with her auditors examining the overall finances and the district attorney’s investigators focusing on possible criminal actions by former or current Coliseum managers.
The Times has reported, based on records and interviews, that two private firms set up by a former Coliseum events manager collected at least $1.8 million from rave concert promoters and other companies that did business at the stadium and companion Sports Arena.
A second manager directed Coliseum business to a firm he founded, according to stadium invoices and interviews. At the same time, the money-losing Coliseum spent thousands of dollars on luxury cars and other perks for managers.
“Where are the checks and balances?” Greuel said. “How does this happen, and how could it be avoided in the future?”
The Coliseum’s governing commission is a joint authority of the state and the city and county of Los Angeles. Greuel first offered the commission the services of her auditors in February, but the panel did not take her up on it.
She announced her intention to do the audit anyway, after learning that the Coliseum’s interim general manager granted a 17% raise to the stadium’s finance director (it was later rescinded). That’s when Cooley’s office asked Greuel to wait.
“We’re going to look at everything from the car allowances to the salary increases to the gas cards,” Greuel said.
Greuel is raising money to run for L.A. mayor. Two Coliseum commission members, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and developer Rick Caruso, are considering a bid for the office.