Plea Hearing Set, Civil Suit Being Dropped In Coliseum Fraud Case | WGLT

Plea Hearing Set, Civil Suit Being Dropped In Coliseum Fraud Case

Aug 24, 2020

After three years, the end is in sight for the lead defendant in the Coliseum fraud case.

Former Coliseum manager John Butler is due in court Tuesday morning for a plea hearing. It's unclear to which charge or charges Butler will plead guilty. He faces 34 criminal counts.

Butler was about to go on trial two weeks ago—jury selection had even begun—when the proceedings were abruptly halted. That suggested a plea deal was near.

Also headed toward a resolution is civil litigation between Butler and the City of Bloomington.

Butler's Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM) sued the city in 2017, just months after the criminal charges were filed. Butler claimed he was owed $67,175 in unpaid commissions. A few months later, the city countersued Butler and his companies, alleging breach of contract, civil conspiracy, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. That lawsuit remains pending.

On Monday night, the Bloomington City Council exited executive session and voted unanimously to authorize its attorneys to execute a release and dismissal of the claims in the lawsuit.

Butler was accused of running a multiyear fraud scheme that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bloomington taxpayers. His company, CIAM, managed the city-owned downtown arena for its first decade. (The former U.S. Cellular Coliseum is now called Grossinger Motors Arena.)

Butler was one of five managers charged with 111 total criminal counts in September 2017, following a 16-month Illinois State Police investigation that began when a new arena management company noticed financial discrepancies and alerted the city.

Former concessions general manager Paul Grazar and former concessions finance chief Jay Laesch have pleaded guilty and were expected to testify during Butler’s trial. Charges against former assistant GM for finance Kelly Klein were dismissed. Charges remain pending against former Coliseum general manager Bart Rogers.

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