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Coliseum defendant at large

One of six men indicted last week in the corruption scandal engulfing the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum remains at large and has given no sign that he plans to surrender to face charges of embezzlement and conspiracy, prosecutors said Monday.

Tony Estrada, a longtime janitorial contractor at the historic stadium, is accused of making $385,000 in illegal payments to former Coliseum General Manager Patrick Lynch, who was also charged in the indictment.

Most of the money was deposited in a Miami bank account. Prosecutors allege that it came from increases in Estrada's janitorial fees that Lynch arranged at the public's expense.

On Monday, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman said Estrada apparently traveled to Panama before the charges were filed and might still be there. "At the moment I have no reason to believe he will voluntarily surrender," Huntsman said.

Calls Monday to a mobile telephone number for Estrada found it disconnected.

Another defendant, former Coliseum technology manager Leopold Caudillo Jr., was in Russia when the indictment was unsealed but is expected to return here this week, Huntsman said.

Caudillo is charged with criminal conflict of interest for allegedly directing more than $20,000 in stadium funds to a firm he co-founded.

The allegations in the 29-count indictment largely reflect a series of Times reports on financial irregularities at the Coliseum, which is jointly operated by the city, county and state.

The others charged include Go Ventures Inc. Chief Executive Reza Gerami and Insomniac Inc. head Pasquale Rotella, two nationally prominent rave promoters accused of making about $1.9 million in illegal payments to former Coliseum Events Manager Todd DeStefano, who was also indicted.

As part of his government duties, DeStefano oversaw the promoters' concerts at the Coliseum and companion Sports Arena, including a June 2010 production attended by a 15-year-old girl who died after overdosing on drugs at the event.

The Times has reported that DeStefano received more than $2.2 million from the promoters and other companies that did business at the Coliseum and Sports Arena. DeStefano fooled the other companies into believing the payments were proper, prosecutors allege.

Lynch, Gerami, Rotella and DeStefano have pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges that include embezzlement, bribery, conflict of interest and conspiracy.

DeStefano and Rotella were released from jail late last week after posting bail, which was set at $1.2 million each. Gerami was expected Monday to be released soon on the same bail amount. Lynch remained behind bars in lieu of $800,000 in bail, according to the most recent information available from the Sheriff''s Department.

A hearing in the case is set for Wednesday.

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-- Andrew Blankstein and Paul Pringle

 
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