U.S. Cellular Coliseum | WGLT

U.S. Cellular Coliseum

Curtis Webb
McLean County Jail

A McLean County jury has convicted a former Bloomington arena manager of stealing money from the venue.

Paul Grazar in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

A second defendant in the Coliseum fraud case has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to probation in exchange for cooperating with authorities as they prosecute the accused mastermind.

Kelly Klein
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

Charges have been dismissed 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.

Wide shot of the arena floor
Amy Niebur / WGLT

Over the next month, Bloomington city leaders will decide whether to keep or fire the company that runs Grossinger Motors Arena. It won’t be an easy decision.

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

For the past 16 months, lawyers for lead Coliseum defendant John Butler have stayed relatively quiet in the media as his criminal case inched its way through the justice system.

Grand jury transcript
Ryan Denham / WGLT

The prosecutor had just finished a long Q&A with his chief witness—the lead investigator in the Coliseum fraud case. Step by step, the Illinois State Police special agent alleged how the Coliseum’s managers skimmed and stole over $750,000 from the City of Bloomington.

Paul Grazar in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

Instead of going to trial this week, one of the Coliseum defendants has been re-indicted and now faces two new charges of tax fraud.

Jay Laesch walks
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

One of the five Coliseum defendants who prosecutors described as a “middle man” in a scheme to secretly pocket over $100,000 in cash pleaded guilty Wednesday and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Paul Grazar in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The first trial connected to the Coliseum fraud case could be just weeks away.

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.

Paul Grazar in court
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.

Jenn Carrillo
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.

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