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Coliseum: Judge affirms asset freeze on rave CEOs, ex-manager

April 11, 2012 |  6:02 pm

Pasquale Rotella, left, and Reza Gerami
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge refused to lift an order freezing the assets of three men indicted on corruption charges related to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Following the Wednesday court hearing, one of the three defendants whose assets were frozen, Pasquale Rotella, chief executive of prominent rave company Insomniac Inc., reached an agreement with the district attorney's office to post a $2.625-million bond in return for the lifting of the asset freeze.

The assets of former Coliseum events manager Todd DeStefano and the chief executive of Go Ventures Inc., Reza Gerami, remain in place, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman. Last month, the court froze about $536,000 in DeStefano's assets, $373,000 in Gerami's, and $1.75 million in Rotella's.

FULL COVERAGE: Coliseum under scrutiny

Judge Patricia M. Schnegg said she denied the defendants' request to unfreeze the assets after weighing the potential harm to the public. The district attorney's office won an order to freeze their assets on March 23, arguing that they were concerned that "these assets may be dissipated" as the case comes to trial, "thereby threatening the victims' ability to recover restitution."

Earlier, lawyer Stefan Sacks said the freezing of the assets of his client, Gerami, was causing harm to Go Ventures, making the firm unable to make payroll or hold shows.

Rotella's lawyer, Gary Jay Kaufman, said Insomniac's business operations are unaffected by the freeze, but the freeze was hurtful because it may create the "public perception" that Insomniac would be unable to hold future electronic music festivals.

Rotella and Gerami are accused of bribing DeStefano, a Coliseum manager, in return for getting low-cost access to the stadium and acting as an inside agent to support the return of raves to the stadium complex even after a 15-year-old girl overdosed on Ecstasy at a Coliseum rave and later died. Prosecutors alleged the rave executives paid DeStefano at least $1.9 million.

At the end of Wednesday's hearing, Schnegg assigned the Coliseum corruption court case to Judge Kathleen Kennedy, who is also overseeing the city of Bell corruption trial. The next court date was set for April 24.

Rotella and Gerami have been charged with bribing a public employee, embezzlement, and conspiracy. DeStefano has been charged with accepting a bribe, embezzlement, conspiracy, and conflict of interest. The three have pleaded not guilty.

Of three other men also indicted in the case: General manager Patrick Lynch has pleaded guilty on one count to avoid a lengthy prison sentence; ex-Coliseum technology manager Leopold Caudillo Jr. has pleaded not guilty; and former janitorial contractor Tony Estrada remains out of the country and has told The Times he has no intention of returning to Los Angeles to face charges.

--- Rong-Gong Lin II at Los Angeles Superior Court

Photos: Insomniac Inc. Chief Executive Pasquale Rotella, left, and Go Ventures Inc. Chief Executive Reza Gerami, leaving Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 28. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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