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Charges Dismissed For Former Coliseum General Manager

Bart and Stephanie
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
Former Coliseum general manager Bart Rogers with his attorney, Stephanie Wong, during a 2017 court appearance.

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.

Bart Rogers, 47, of Morton was indicted in September on 13 counts of theft, including improper credit card transactions totaling $8,476. Rogers was the former general manager at the arena, owned by the City of Bloomington.

Rogers’ attorney filed motions to dismiss in January, arguing the charges were not specific enough and that some of them alleged conduct beyond the three-year statute of limitations for theft.

Judge Michael Stroh issued an order Tuesday dismissing all 13 charges. Some were dismissed because of the statute of limitations issue; the indictments alleged misconduct dating back to 2008. The other charges were dismissed because they were too vague and do not sufficiently inform Rogers about what he’s accused of doing, Stroh said.

“The charges are unusually vague as to what, if any, action was taken by either the defendant or one he could be legally responsible for,” Stroh wrote, adding that the charges “fell well short of alleging specific facts.”

The bills of indictment returned against Rogers accused of him of steering money meant for arena utility bills to bank accounts for John Butler, the owner of Central Illinois Arena Management. Rogers was also accused of disguising legal fees and improper credit card transactions, among other charges.

Prosecutors are not ruling out re-indicting Rogers.

“We will discuss the issue of an appeal with the Appellate Prosecutor prior to making that decision. But the statutes do allow re-indictments,” said McLean County State’s Attorney Jason Chambers.

Rogers' attorney, Stephanie Wong, welcomed the ruling.

"We’re very pleased with the court’s ruling on our motions but we also realize that there may be issues that will require further argument," Wong said. "Should those issues arise, we look forward to those challenges."

The 44 charges against Butler, the lead defendant, are still pending. Butler’s lawyers claim the dispute is contractual and not criminal, and he’s sued the City of Bloomington alleging unpaid commissions.

Three other former arena managers also face pending criminal charges. They've all pleaded not guilty.

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.
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