U.S. Cellular Coliseum | WGLT

U.S. Cellular Coliseum

ohn Butler, Jay Laesch, Kelly Klein, Bart Rogers, and Paul Grazar in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

It’s been a year since five former U.S. Cellular Coliseum officials were charged with 111 criminal counts—accused of a running a brazen multiyear fraud scheme that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bloomington taxpayers.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The lead defendant in the Coliseum fraud case lost two of three rounds in a McLean County courtroom Friday, as a judge rejected attempts to kill the case before trial.

David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

One of the defendants in the Coliseum fraud case wants the charges against him dismissed—and another now faces a fresh batch of indictments.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The former manager of the U.S. Cellular Coliseum says Illinois State Police won't let him help review more than 70 boxes of business records they seized during their fraud investigation.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

A new court filing accuses the former Coliseum manager of using a secret internal document to run a multiyear fraud scheme and tricking the City of Bloomington into one last cash grab in the final weeks of his contract.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Here are some of the top stories we covered this week (April 9-13, 2018) on GLT and WGLT.org.

David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

Charges were dismissed this week for one of the defendants in the Coliseum fraud case, with a judge saying the indictments were too vague and did not fall within the statute of limitations.

David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

New court filings in the Coliseum cases show that prosecutors are not done searching for evidence—and that a former city official has been roped back in.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

Newly released documents show auditors repeatedly warned City of Bloomington leaders that their contract with the U.S. Cellular Coliseum’s managers was riddled with ambiguity and needed to be reworked. Several of the issues that were flagged are now part of the criminal case against those same arena managers.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

The City of Bloomington’s attorney asked prosecutors to give aldermen a closed-door “high-level briefing” on the Coliseum fraud case, only to be denied by the McLean County state’s attorney because such a meeting might violate the state’s Open Meetings law, GLT has learned.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

An attorney for the lead defendant in the Coliseum fraud case claims that prosecutors are trying to “criminalize” a contract dispute between the City of Bloomington and its former arena managers, arguing the charges should be dismissed.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

The lead defendant in the Coliseum fraud case claims police investigators engaged in “prosecutor-shopping” before his indictment, suggesting the case was so weak federal prosecutors wouldn’t take it.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The former managers of Bloomington’s downtown arena are not owed any unpaid commission money because those sponsorship deals violated their management agreement with the city, according to a new court filing.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The former manager of the U.S. Cellular Coliseum who’s accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bloomington taxpayers has filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that he’s owed $67,175 in unpaid commissions.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

It was two steps forward but one step back for the city of Bloomington’s downtown arena last week.

(b) The City shall have the right at any lime, and from lime to time, to cause recognized independent auditors to audit all of the books of CIA relating to Revenues and Operating Expenses, including, without limitation, bank books, sales slips, cash regis
Staff / WGLT

Here are the top stories we covered this week (Oct. 9-13, 2017) on WGLT and WGLT.org.

Staff / WGLT

Newly released audits for the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum show the city was warned eight years ago that its finance department wasn’t providing adequate oversight over the arena’s records, due in part to staffing shortages.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said Tuesday that the allegations against the former managers of the U.S. Cellular Coliseum were “not at all surprising” to him and that trying to extract more detailed financial information from those managers was like “dealing with a Soviet Gulag.”

(b) The City shall have the right at any lime, and from lime to time, to cause recognized independent auditors to audit all of the books of CIA relating to Revenues and Operating Expenses, including, without limitation, bank books, sales slips, cash regis
Staff / WGLT

There’s been a lot of finger-pointing since prosecutors announced that five former managers at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum were facing 111 criminal counts of theft, fraud, and money laundering.

ohn Butler, Jay Laesch, Kelly Klein, Bart Rogers, and Paul Grazar in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The alleged fraud scheme at the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum took advantage of a known blind spot in the City of Bloomington’s oversight of arena finances, exploiting a decade-long contract that many city leaders disliked from the very beginning, GLT has learned.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The full scope of the investigation into alleged mismanagement at U.S. Cellular Coliseum became clearer Friday as prosecutors disclosed a long list of potential witnesses and police interviews already conducted with past and present City of Bloomington officials.

John Butler in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The five defendants in the U.S. Cellular Coliseum case pleaded not guilty Friday to more than 100 counts of fraud, theft, and money laundering.

Staff / WGLT

Joliet city council members say their new city manager never told them about a looming financial scandal in Bloomington.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Pro Tem Karen Schmidt said Tuesday she thinks it's unfair to speculate whether aldermen bear blame for any factors that might have led to alleged theft of nearly a million dollars by the city's former arena management company.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

It’s typically in bad taste to blame the victim, but the investigation into mismanagement at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum begs the question: Why didn’t the city realize what was going on?

McLean County Sheriff's Department

The former managers of the now-renamed U.S. Cellular Coliseum are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the City of Bloomington through an elaborate scheme that skimmed off concession fees, over-billed for cleaning supplies, and disguised other charges.

Hockey player on skates
Courtesy / Bloomington Thunder

Bloomington’s hockey fans may need to buy some new jerseys this fall.

The Bloomington Thunder is considering changing its name for the new season that begins Oct. 7. An announcement could come as soon as next week, said chief operating officer Brendan Kelly.

One possible name is the Central Illinois Flying Aces. When asked about that name, Kelly declined to say if it was under consideration. However, the domain name ciflyingaces.com was registered in Kelly's name on July 11, records show. A second team official is also listed on the domain registration.

Hockey player on skates
Courtesy / Bloomington Thunder

The city-owned arena in downtown Bloomington has new managers and a new name. Does it deserve a new chance to win over its critics?

Coliseum Naming Rights Sold for $850,000

Jun 22, 2017
Kae Mason / WGLT

The Coliseum in Bloomington will now be called the Grossinger Motors Arena. Facility manager VenuWorks has sold Grossinger Motors naming rights for the stadium. The $175,000  per year contract will last five years. Company owner Caroline Grossinger said she's excited.

"You know, investing in a facility is an enormous investment, but when we did that we did that with the thought that we're here to stay. We're here to build that community and the overall communities around us," said Grossinger.

Staff / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council will receive the FY 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report tonight. 

Baker Tilly LLC were awarded the audit contract by Bloomington last year.

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