NFL Failures, EDM Greed and Massive Corruption: The Inside Story of the L.A. Coliseum Scandal
By Gene Maddaus
published: August 09, 2012
ILLUSTRATION BY KOREN SHADMI
Electronic dance music promoter Pasquale Rotella.
EDM promoter Reza Gerami
Former Coliseum general manager Pat Lynch
Todd DeStefano, who was working for both the promoters and the facilities
PHOTO BY NANETTE GONZALES
PHOTO BY NANETTE GONZALES
Todd DeStefano and his wife after a recent court appearance
PHOTO BY NANETTE GONZALES
See also: Nedy Warren, Unsung Hero of Coliseum Scandal, Wrote Investigative Report That Led to Corruption Charges
The L.A. Coliseum scandal came to light by accident.
In April 2010, Maria Rodriguez was cleaning the bleachers after a religious event at the L.A. Sports Arena when she stepped on a loose piece of plywood and fell seven feet to the floor. She landed on her neck and back, suffering two herniated discs. She was making minimum wage and could not pay her medical bills.
She worked for Tony Estrada, who ran the janitorial company contracted to clean the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the Sports Arena. He did not want to pay her bills, either — or report the injury to the workers' compensation system, which would cause his premiums to go up. He believed the Coliseum was at fault.
Estrada told her to send the bills to Pat Lynch, the Coliseum's general manager. But Lynch also refused to pay, arguing that Estrada should be held responsible because the woman worked for him.
Had they been able to resolve the matter amicably, it might all have ended there. Instead, the conflict led to a rift that would expose systemic graft at the Coliseum, destroying Lynch's career and sending Estrada into hiding in South America. A grand jury investigation ultimately led to charges of bribery, embezzlement and conspiracy against a half-dozen defendants, including Lynch, his erstwhile golden boy and two of the top promoters in the electronic dance music industry.
Two years after the accident, Rodriguez, 44, still walks with a cane. Sitting on the bed in her small efficiency apartment in South L.A., she says she is angry that Estrada wrote her a check for $500 — a mere fraction of her expenses — and told her not to file a workers' comp claim. She calls him "un mentiroso" — a liar.
Estrada, 72, eventually was persuaded to report the injury. But he remained angry at Lynch, once a close friend. Estrada had been amassing grievances about how Lynch ran the Coliseum. Now he had finally had enough. He told people he was going to "burn the whole place down."
In June 2010, he called the vice president of the Coliseum Commission to make a report. Over the next few months, Estrada sent several rambling faxes in which he claimed to be paying kickbacks to Lynch. He also alleged that Lynch's right-hand man was getting money on the side from rave promoters.
The Coliseum scandal had begun.
The L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena once were the center of the city's professional sports landscape, hosting the Lakers, the Clippers, the Rams and the Raiders.
But one by one those teams left, leaving the USC Trojans as the only long-term tenant. The facilities deteriorated, both physically and financially, relying on concerts and religious festivals just to stay in business.
Pat Lynch's strategy to fix those problems was a Hail Mary: Bring back the NFL.
Lynch, the general manager, believed the NFL would invest hundreds of millions of dollars to save the Coliseum. But the league might also save Pat Lynch.
Without it, he would be at a professional dead end: completely dependent on USC, with which he had a strained relationship. But if he were to land an NFL team, Lynch would instantly become a big-league player in professional sports, with a shot at a more lucrative job with the new franchise.
Lynch chased that dream for more than a decade, neglecting day-to-day Coliseum operations in the process. But when that dream fell through, in 2006, Lynch began looking for other ways to cash in. Neglect turned into corruption.
When he arrived in Los Angeles in 1994, Lynch was still a young man full of ambition. Originally from Massachusetts, he had made a name for himself managing the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, N.Y.
"He kind of hit the town by storm," recalls James Coyne Jr., the Albany County executive who spearheaded the development of the arena. "He made his rounds of the Chamber of Commerce members. Saratoga's a big summertime place to be with the horse racing, and he would shoot up there for parties."
Coyne later would be convicted on federal bribery and conspiracy charges for accepting a $30,000 payment from the architect who designed the arena. But no allegations from that time ever surfaced about Lynch. When Spectacor, the private venue manager hired to run the Knickerbocker, transferred Lynch to L.A., he had an unblemished reputation.
The same could not be said for the Coliseum Commission, the ungainly, nine-member panel made up of representatives of the city, county and state, which controls the Coliseum and Sports Arena. The commission was widely despised by sports fans for failing to take the steps to keep professional football in the city. Within a year, the Raiders would be gone.
The commission had turned over management to Spectacor in 1988. After a few years, though, the panel decided it could save money if it dumped Spectacor and hired Lynch directly. Lynch was well compensated — $275,000 a year — and employees were told to carry on as if nothing had changed.
But Lynch and his staff had become public employees, without any instruction on the conflict-of-interest laws that apply to government workers. That confusion would lead to a lot of the trouble to come.
"No one ever sat down with any of us and explained rules or gave us a handbook or what it means now that we're a commission employee," Ron Lederkramer, the Coliseum's chief financial officer, would later tell the commission's investigator.
For years, Lynch worked night and day to bring the NFL back to the Coliseum. Three mayors — Riordan, Hahn and Villaraigosa — made it their policy that the Coliseum was the only place for pro football in L.A.
Lynch was himself a big NFL fan. He played fantasy football with his staff. As he jetted to owners' meetings, he got an up-close look at the executive ranks of professional sports.
"He would have loved to move up to the NFL," says Paul Mance, who owns a Redondo Beach sports bar with Lynch. "I said, 'You're wasting your time. [The Coliseum] is a shithole.' "
But Lynch could not be discouraged.
"The NFL was a big deal for him," says Yrene Asalde, a longtime events manager. "He worked very hard on that. He ate, drank and breathed the NFL" — leaving day-to-day operations to subordinates.
"He would leave us to our own devices," Asalde says. "He didn't put a lot of effort or interest into what everybody was doing."
The Coliseum nearly landed a team in 1999, only to be outbid by Houston. Further efforts were no more fruitful. And when Roger Goodell became the league's commissioner in 2006, he was noticeably less interested than his predecessor in returning to L.A. It became increasingly clear that if the NFL ever did return, it would not be to the Coliseum.
After the Houston loss, Lynch said he would be around the offices more often. But that didn't happen, employees say. Instead, he became more aloof.
There was one Coliseum contractor with whom he shared a special bond: Tony Estrada, who ran the janitorial services. In 2000, they bought a boat together, a $140,000 Silverton motor yacht called Wild Rose. Other friends couldn't account for the relationship. Lynch was a bit of a drinker, but aside from that he was fundamentally conservative. Estrada, on the other hand, was a paranoid eccentric. He'd had a face-lift, and often claimed to be working for the CIA. Sometimes he would claim to have been at the Bay of Pigs, and would boast that he was "untouchable."
"We would always say, 'What's up with this Tony guy?' " Mance says. "How is he at the Coliseum? He's definitely not competent or qualified. He's like a retard working at Harvard."
Lederkramer, the Coliseum's CFO, believed Estrada was overcharging for his services. But Lynch wouldn't hear of it.
The bond between the men was so strong that when Lynch's NFL hopes died, in 2006, he initially considered taking over Estrada's cleaning business. The idea was to run the business while still managing the Coliseum — a clear conflict of interest. Lynch ran it by Supervisor Yvonne Burke, who told him it was a bad idea, and he dropped it.
Instead, he figured out how to achieve the same ends through surreptitious means. Lynch raised the rate the Coliseum paid Estrada by $1.25 per hour, per worker. Estrada later would tell the Coliseum's investigator that he then agreed to refund the sum to Lynch for "event consulting services." Estrada deposited the money in an account in Miami set up in Lynch's name. Lynch told no one about the arrangement.
Over the next four and a half years, Estrada would deposit $385,000 into Lynch's Miami account. A city controller's audit later found that over much of the same period, Estrada was paid $4.8 million for his work at the Coliseum. Both men benefited, but at the Coliseum's cost.
In late 2009, the CFO sent Lynch an analysis showing that the Coliseum could save $300,000 to $500,000 a year by switching to a different contractor. Lynch just brushed him off.
One other person at the Coliseum had a special relationship with Lynch, and that was Todd DeStefano. Like Lynch, DeStefano was from the East Coast — in his case, Buffalo. Also like Lynch, he was a big-time football fan. Captain of his high school team, in college he interned in the Buffalo Bills' marketing department.
DeStefano came to L.A. in search of big-city opportunities, and first got a job selling season tickets for the Clippers. There, he was seen as a "rising star," says Charlie Arviso, a friend from the Clippers organization.
"He's a good salesman," says another friend, Todd Etting. "He's very personable. He's just always a guy's guy."
DeStefano was 25 when Lynch hired him away from the Clippers and made him an events manager at the Sports Arena and Coliseum. Lynch, then 41, quickly took a liking to the younger man. At Tuesday staff meetings, co-workers noticed that Lynch would praise DeStefano for doing things that were regular duties of his job.
The appreciation ran both ways. Colleagues observed that DeStefano would greet Lynch with, "Hey, boss man."
Some called DeStefano "the golden boy." When DeStefano married a former Clippers cheerleader in Hawaii in 2009, Lynch was there, as was Bill Chadwick, a Coliseum commissioner.
Many of DeStefano's co-workers liked him, but some found him arrogant and overly ambitious. He often said he wanted to be like David Checketts, a sports executive who became a general manager before he was 30.
"He thought football was coming," Etting says. "He wanted to be a part of that."
But when the NFL talks collapsed, DeStefano, too, began to look for other opportunities. In August 2006 — the same month that Goodell took over as NFL commissioner, and the same month that Lynch began receiving money from Estrada — Lynch agreed to give DeStefano a $60,000-a-year bonus for booking film shoots at the facilities.
To his co-workers, it looked like a sweetheart deal, and they resented it.
"He made no secret that he was well compensated," Jonathan Lee, the Coliseum's marketing director, would later tell the grand jury.
DeStefano got a better title and a new office in the Sports Arena, away from the rest of the staff. He upgraded to a BMW 5-series, paid for by the Coliseum. His personal bank records show that he dined at Ruth's Chris, Katsuya and Nobu.
Just three months after securing the filming bonus, he hit upon another moneymaking scheme. This one he kept secret. DreamWorks wanted to film the Will Ferrell vehicle Blades of Glory at the Sports Arena. But instead of paying the Coliseum directly, DeStefano had the company cut a $74,000 check to an entity called LAC Events.
The owner of LAC Events was Todd DeStefano.
And DeStefano wasn't done yet. For years at the Sports Arena, electronic dance music promoter Reza Gerami had been hosting a Halloween show called Monster Massive. In 1998, Gerami partnered with a rival promoter, Pasquale Rotella, on a New Year's show called Together as One. Though rave critics warned that hosting the events in a public venue gave tacit approval to drug use, the events drew enormous crowds — in the tens of thousands — which helped the Coliseum's bottom line.
In 2005, DeStefano persuaded Gerami to put on a summer show, Independance, to bring in more revenue to the Coliseum. Two years later, Gerami declined the summer date, opening the door for Rotella to bring in his Electric Daisy Carnival, or EDC.
Until then, EDC had been held at a variety of smaller venues on the fringes of L.A. A sort of cross between Burning Man and Alice in Wonderland, EDC was unlike anything else — a wild, all-night, neon circus of pulsing bass beats and spectacular light shows. The Coliseum represented a chance to expand.
In its first year there, EDC drew 29,000. Two years later, it was up to 120,000.
With those numbers, an event could gross millions of dollars, and yet the business was wide open. It seemed like almost anyone could get in and make a killing.
"I think [Todd] dug the music, but, if anything, he saw opportunity," says Chris Irving, a boyhood friend of DeStefano's. "He saw the size those things were getting, and the popularity. And they weren't mainstream yet. They weren't controlled by Live Nation."
In 2008, DeStefano drew up a partnership agreement between promoters Rotella, Gerami and himself. DeStefano would get 10 percent of the gross ticket sales at Coliseum raves as a "consulting fee." In exchange, he would be responsible for "keeping all building-related expenses as tight as possible." In other words, he would use his influence with the Coliseum to minimize costs, such as ambulances and security guards.
Though the agreement was not signed, it appears to have been the basis for their partnership. Soon after it was drafted, Rotella and Gerami began writing checks to DeStefano.
At first, DeStefano kept the arrangement secret. But in late 2009, he told Lynch that he was doing some outside work for the promoters, on his own time. He said it was about to go to "a more significant level," but that it would not conflict with his duties at the Coliseum.
Lynch checked with the Coliseum's attorney, Donovan Main: Would it be OK for DeStefano to work for the promoters?
Main gave some general advice about the state's conflict law, and warned that there would have to be financial "firewalls" in place to make sure that DeStefano was not directly involved in decisions from which he stood to make a profit. But Main also said he could not give a definitive opinion without more details.
That was good enough for Lynch — perhaps because DeStefano was the point person behind the Coliseum's EDM business, which by that point represented 28 percent of the facility's annual revenue. Lynch took away DeStefano's filming bonus and reduced his title. But he allowed DeStefano to continue to coordinate the EDM shows for the Coliseum, even as he partnered with the promoters behind them.
Chris Irving, DeStefano's friend, says he expressed concern about drug use at the events. DeStefano said they had it under control.
"Cover your butt," Irving says he advised him. "You're one issue away from people turning on you."
The fliers for Electric Daisy Carnival 2010 were all over Eagle Rock High School. To Ebony Diaz, it seemed like everybody she knew was going. She got her mom to drive her and a friend. The ticket taker checked her school ID to make sure she was 16. She paid the $101 entry fee, submitted to a search, and she was inside.
She and her friend wandered around for a while, listened to the music and painted on a big wall set up for that purpose. Then she met up with another friend, Sasha Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a year behind her in school, and said she had to sneak in because she was just 15. She was wearing boots, a pink tutu, a black top and a pink bra.
They sat on the bleachers for a while, and then Rodriguez went off with an older guy who was wearing neon gloves. Diaz only got his nickname: Menace.
When they couldn't reach Rodriguez on her cellphone, they started to worry. When they finally met up with her again, she looked pale.
"Her face completely changed," Diaz would later testify in a deposition. "Like, she looked like she wanted to be happy, but she wasn't."
Rodriguez said she had taken a pill, and then went off with another friend scavenging for half-empty water bottles. "I'm thirsty," she said, and then fell to the ground.
Rodriguez had seizures in the ambulance and was in a coma by the time she arrived at the hospital. Two days later, she was taken off life support. An autopsy would show that she died of an ecstasy overdose.
The reaction was swift and severe. The next day, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who sits on the Coliseum Commission, called for a rave moratorium. The L.A. City Council vowed to tighten security. An investigation was launched, and there was talk of canceling events.
His livelihood on the line, DeStefano swung into action. First, he sought to reassure the promoters. "Everything you are reading in the paper is politics being played at the highest level," he wrote in an email. "I'm working the politics big-time behind the scenes."
DeStefano knew he needed an ally. And on July 8, about a week after Sasha Rodriguez's death, Bernard Parks Jr. sent DeStefano a contribution form for his father's re-election campaign.
DeStefano forwarded it to promoters Rotella and Gerami and encouraged them to donate. He also told them to pony up $10,000 apiece for a Fourth of July fireworks show, which was important to Councilman Parks. Parks would prove to be a strong supporter.
And while Rotella had a lobbyist, DeStefano decided to hire one of his own — a truly bizarre move for a person who was still a public employee. He urged Gerami to launch a "Save Our Music" email campaign and get his "1.4 million supporters into this fight."
"They need to be focused on one individual and that's Zev," DeStefano wrote. "We should address all of our concerns on this attack on our freedoms to him. ... Make sure to have your people remind Zev that they are registered voters and a ban on our music cannot be tolerated."
But no campaign materialized. It likely would have had little effect anyway.
"He was obviously devastated that the girl died. That just crushed him," Irving says. "Then everything started heating up so fast. I don't think he had time to register how that impacted his world. ... The wind blew really fast — really fast."
At a meeting with the LAPD, Officer Alberto Martinez complained that DeStefano had promised security cameras for EDC but never delivered. Martinez also noted that extra fencing might have prevented gate-crashing. To drive home the point, he showed DeStefano a picture of a girl who had been trampled and had a bloody nose.
"He just got real angry and said ... 'You have to bring that up again,' " Martinez would later tell the grand jury.
At that point, Martinez said, "My chief chimed in and really gave him a shellacking."
As the months went on, though, the furor abated. DeStefano began to plan for EDC 2011. Working with the promoters, he put together an elaborate presentation for the commissioners. He pledged that promoters would bring in state-of-the-art medical equipment — and argued that the concerts were no more dangerous than marathons.
The commissioners pushed back on two points: They wanted more safety measures, which would drive up costs, and they wanted more rent for their trouble.
At a January 2011 subcommittee meeting, Commissioner David Israel argued that since Electric Daisy Carnival was generating more than $12 million in ticket sales, the Coliseum should be getting more than just $40,000 in rent and $600,000 for concessions. But DeStefano warned that if the rent went up, the promoters would take the show to Las Vegas.
The following week, Lynch phoned Israel to prepare him for the February commission meeting, where the EDC's fate would be decided.
As Lynch would later relate it to a Coliseum investigator, he told Israel that he would take the lead in the meeting. As for DeStefano, Lynch said, "Todd would be my backup because Todd was working for both sides."
"What?" Israel asked.
"Yeah," Lynch said. "Todd works for them and us."
Israel hit the roof.
"He can't work for both sides," Israel said. "He's got to work one or the other. Go confront him right now. Ask him to make up his mind right now."
DeStefano did not have to think hard about his choice. He had already earned $1.9 million from the promoters. He would go work for them.
That Friday, Lynch sent an email to the staff: "It is with somewhat sadness to inform you that Todd DeStefano will be leaving us."
Lynch wrote that DeStefano would be working for Rotella, yet he would keep his office in the Sports Arena. Indeed, from that office, DeStefano kept doing exactly what he had been doing before he "quit" — preparing feverishly for the big commission meeting on Feb. 2.
It was only at that meeting, when Israel demanded to know why DeStefano was still hanging around, that Lynch finally got the message and showed him the door.
By the time Lynch offhandedly mentioned to Israel DeStefano's deal with the promoters, Estrada had been blowing the whistle for months. The commission had hired an investigator, Nedy Warren, and she had already interviewed Lynch once, though the questions were about his relationship with Estrada, not DeStefano.
Given that, it's possible that Lynch's admission was not as inadvertent as it seemed. He may have figured that DeStefano's relationship would shortly come out anyway; the best option he had was to get out in front of it.
"Pat brought this forward to legitimize it," Parks says.
Had Israel not objected, Lynch might have been able to argue — as he would with respect to attorney Donovan Main — that Israel had approved the arrangement.
If that was his gambit, it didn't work. Israel informed the other commissioners about DeStefano's deal at the closed-door meeting on Feb. 2.
A week later, the L.A. Times ran its first story on the scandal, apparently based on a leak from the meeting: "Los Angeles Coliseum official was paid by rave firm."
That afternoon, Commissioner Rick Caruso called for Lynch's resignation.
Lynch emailed an apology to the commissioners.
"When I made this decision, I thought it would be in the best interests of the Coliseum," he wrote. "I believed, right or wrong, that we established the appropriate financial and decision-making firewalls and that I had checked with the right people. With hindsight, those decisions would have been different."
Four days later, as the commission was about to vote to put him on leave, Lynch resigned. The CFO, Lederkramer, was appointed interim general manager. The full scope of the corruption was still unknown.
Soon thereafter, Lederkramer met Rotella at Houston's in Century City. Over a beer, he asked the promoter why he'd been paying DeStefano.
"It was the only way I could get to have my event," Rotella told him, according to Lederkramer's grand jury testimony.
"You didn't have to give him anything," Lederkramer said. "We wanted to have your events. He was not the gatekeeper."
Rotella's face sank.
"You mean to tell me that I could have paid this to rent or to you or I could have given this money to my mother?"
"Yeah," Lederkramer replied.
Lederkramer had arranged the meeting with Rotella in order to collect on a debt. In late 2010, Lynch had mentioned that DeStefano had sold beverage rights for the EDM concerts to Coca-Cola, on behalf of the promoters. But the promoters never turned over the Coliseum's share of the money. Now Lederkramer wanted the check.
"I don't know anything about a Coke deal," Rotella told him.
Lederkramer was stunned. Back at the office, he dug out the contract. The Coca-Cola executive had signed it, but the line for Lynch's signature was blank. Lederkramer then had Coca-Cola send over its copy of the contract.
That copy was signed — by Todd DeStefano. And the contract was not between Coca-Cola and the Coliseum but between Coca-Cola and his company, LAC Events.
Investigators later would dig up other contracts. In all, DeStefano had pocketed $254,000 from various side deals. When Lederkramer learned about the Blades of Glory payment, he thought, "Wow."
Lynch — now 55 and unemployed — learned about DeStefano's side deals by reading about them in the newspaper, according to his friend Paul Mance. "You could tell he was totally shocked and surprised," Mance says.
Mance chalks it up to Lynch's trusting nature. A few times, Mance has caught an employee stealing from the bar. But Lynch would never allow Mance to fire them.
"Pat wants to give 'em a second chance," Mance says.
In March, Lynch was indicted on 10 counts of embezzlement and conspiracy. His attorney, Tony Capozzola, argued that the payments from Estrada were not kickbacks but rather payments for maintenance of the boat they co-owned in Marina del Rey.
Warren, the Coliseum's investigator, did not believe that explanation. But a jury will never get a chance to evaluate it. Instead, prosecutors allowed Lynch to plead guilty to a single count of conflict of interest. He agreed to repay $385,000 — which he had to borrow from family members — and was given probation.
"The guy got off with a slap on the wrist," says Caruso, the former Coliseum commissioner.
Controller Wendy Greuel, who is running for mayor, did an audit that showed that, among other things, Lynch had sent $870,000 to Uruguay as down payments for soccer games that never happened. She faulted the Coliseum Commission — which included potential mayoral rivals Caruso and Yaroslavsky — for failing to monitor those events.
Yaroslavsky resents the allegation.
"The controller never expressed an interest until this became a public news story," Yaroslavsky says. "They did not tell us anything we did not know. So use your imagination about why the controller wanted to do an audit."
While Estrada also was indicted, he was nowhere to be found. A few months before the indictments were handed down, Estrada rang up the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. He said he was going away for a while. His parents were buried at Forest Lawn, and he wanted to know how he could go about exhuming their remains, so he could take them with him.
In a recent Skype interview with the Los Angeles Times, Estrada claimed credit — correctly — for blowing the whistle on the Coliseum scandal. He said he was hiding out in Brazil.
Rotella and Gerami were indicted on six and nine counts, respectively, including conspiracy, bribery and embezzlement. They pleaded not guilty.
By that point, Rotella had taken Electric Daisy Carnival to Las Vegas, where it had become an even bigger phenomenon.
Before the 2012 event — which drew 300,000 people — Rotella put on an EDM conference, where he was asked about the charges pending against him in L.A.
"I wouldn't go back and change anything because I wouldn't know what to change," he said.
The moderator, Skip Paige of Goldenvoice, then came to his defense: "Dancing is not a crime," he said. "People need to embrace it, and those who don't will be left behind."
Even if Rotella goes to prison, he has the infrastructure in place to continue with EDC, says Kerri Mason, who covers the genre for Billboard. As to the effect on his reputation, she says, "You don't want to say it helps it, but I don't think it hurts it."
Gerami has had a tougher go of it. Last year's Monster Massive was canceled for lack of a venue after 28,000 tickets were sold, and the resulting fight over refunds generated ill will. After Rotella and Gerami had a falling-out, Gerami hosted the Together as One show on his own, at a park in Orange County.
In March, the district attorney's investigators estimated Gerami had only about $375,000 in total assets — almost half in the form of a 2006 Ferrari. (For comparison, Rotella had $1.75 million that they could locate.)
But DeStefano is the worst off. He is facing 23 counts of embezzlement and bribery.
DeStefano declined to comment for this story through his attorney, as did the other defendants. He has pointed out to friends that Lynch approved his relationship with the promoters. He still struggles to see what he did wrong.
"From Todd's perspective, he would always say, 'I thought I was doing right by the Coliseum,' " Chris Irving says. "He slowly is understanding the two-masters thing. But he would say, 'It's not like I did this in secret.' "
In arguments submitted to the grand jury, DeStefano's lawyers note that the EDC footprint included state-owned parking lots, which are not controlled by the Coliseum. Therefore, they argue, "the majority" of DeStefano's work for Rotella did not conflict with his duties at the Coliseum.
Gerami's lawyer intends to make an argument along the same lines — that DeStefano was paid for "off-site" consulting work, not for the use of the publicly owned facility. However, that argument is undercut by the memos on DeStefano's checks, which describe the payments as "venue rent."
In a statement to the Weekly, DeStefano's attorneys, Michael Nasatir and Richard Hirsch, called the charges "exaggerated" and noted that the Coliseum was profitable when DeStefano worked there.
Since the EDM concerts left, the facility is awash in red ink. The new management has moved to hand it off to USC.
DeStefano has struggled to make a living as his legal bills mount. In an email soon after he "quit" the Coliseum the first time, he suggested to Rotella that he be named president or executive producer of EDC. Rotella put him off.
Forrest Hunt, executive producer of Rotella's company, later testified that DeStefano was not much use to them away from the Coliseum.
"We'd listen to him," Hunt said. "But, y'know ... he's not a production guy. He doesn't really know what he was talking about, so we didn't, you know, take his advice."
DeStefano now is trying to produce EDM concerts on his own. A few weeks ago, he applied to host two shows in the parking lots around the Coliseum. One was for Halloween, and the other was for New Year's Eve.