Five former management officials of the city-owned arena face a total of 111 indictments accusing them of stealing city funds, money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy, filing false sales tax returns and conspiracy to commit tax evasion.
The indictments, returned Sept. 20 by a McLean County grand jury, were unsealed Monday after all five defendants posted bond.
Charged are John Y. Butler, president of Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM); Bart Rogers, CIAM general manager; and CIAM employees Jay C. Laesch, Paul E. Grazar and Kelly W. Klein.
The theft charges against Butler accuse him of taking more than $1.1 million in city money between May 2010 and March 2016 — the end date being days before the expiration of CIAM’s 10-year management deal with the city.
* Earlier this month…
Former McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen was sentenced to a year in federal prison on wire fraud charges Tuesday.
The Pantagraph reports Sorensen was sentenced Tuesday in federal court after submitting hundreds of thousands of dollars of false invoices for consulting work not actually performed for State Farm. Sorensen and business partner Navdeep Arora both pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in connection with the case.
* And then there are all the questions about Bloomington’s mayor…
Questions about a plane ticket to Japan for the girlfriend of the mayor of Bloomington point to just the latest case of questionable spending at city halls in Illinois.
The Edgar County Watchdogs, John Kraft and Kirk Allen, said Bloomington is not the only city where it appears city leaders are misspending city money or misusing city assets.
Kraft said the available facts for the Bloomington case don’t answer all of the questions. Mayor Tari Renner is accused of buying a nearly $1,900 plane ticket for his girlfriend to go to a Sister Cities event in Japan – or at the very least “floating” her airfare on the city’s credit card.
Kraft said that’s against the law, and he thinks Renner knows it. He believes Renner claimed his girlfriend would reimburse the city for the ticket only after he was caught.
* At least two out of the three were exposed by local blogger Diane Benjamin, who has been filing FOIAs and lawsuits and helping break news about both the arena and Renner. Her tagline is “News Nobody Reports.”