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Troubled Coliseum Commission should be dissolved, supervisor says

March 22, 2012 | 12:32 pm

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the arrests of two former L.A. Coliseum executives and a rave producer confirms serious violations of the law, and he suggested that the commission should be dissolved
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the arrests Thursday of two former L.A. Coliseum executives and a rave producer confirms serious violations of the law, and he suggested that the commission should be dissolved.

"I find this shocking -- the whole episode," said Ridley-Thomas, one of the commissioners. "It's time to dissolve this Coliseum Commission."

Ridley-Thomas' statements come after the district attorney's office confirmed that investigators had made three arrests in connection with the Coliseum scandal. Although prosecutors did not disclose specific charges, it is believed that they are related to financial irregularities.

The Coliseum has become mired in charges of conflicts of interest, spending irregularities and loose accounting that have eroded its fiscal foundation and all but bankrupted its future as one of the nation's most-storied public landmarks.

Authorities arrested Patrick Lynch, the former longtime general manager of the Coliseum and the companion Sports Arena, at his home in Torrance. Todd DeStefano, former events manager at the Coliseum, was arrested at a friend's home in Venice. Authorities also arrested Reza Gerami, chief executive of the rave promotion company Go Ventures, at his home in Malibu.

Ridley-Thomas said the commission must be replaced with "a management structure that will strengthen -– not obscure -– accountability."

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the arrests are the "beginning of the end of a long and sordid tale of corruption and betrayl of the public trust."

"Money that should have come to the Coliseum was diverted," Yaroslavsky said. The arrests are "the logical extension of what we discovered."

Attorneys for Lynch and DeStefano defended their clients.

DeStefano's attorney, Richard G. Hirsch, said in a statement that his client had permission from Lynch, his supervisor, to work on the side with Coliseum event promoters. Hirsch blamed the Coliseum Commission for the stadium's financial woes.

"Todd DeStefano did exactly what Coliseum commissioners asked and expected him to do -– make the Coliseum and Sports Arena a profitable enterprise," the attorney said. "Rather than owning up to their failure to manage the Coliseum, a group of commissioners with the help of the district attorney are trying to turn attention away from their own mismanagement by manipulating the facts to support unfounded criminal charges against Mr. DeStefano."

Lynch's attorney, Tony Capozzola, said his client is not guilty. "I have been providing information to the district attorney's office that I believe conclusively proves that Pat Lynch did not profit illegally from any event ever hosted at the Coliseum," he said.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz and Paul Pringle

Photo: The Los Angeles Coliseum. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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