Coliseum exec pleads guilty to conflict of interest

LOS ANGELES - The former general manager of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - indicted two weeks ago on charges of conspiracy and embezzlement for allegedly stealing from the stadium - pleaded guilty last week and agreed to pay the alleged loss of $385,000 by May 14.Patrick Lynch, 55, pleaded to one felony count of conflict of interest. Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman of the Public Integrity Division, who is prosecuting the case, said under the terms of the plea agreement Lynch may never again hold public office, will be placed on three years formal probation and will be expected to complete 1500 hours of community service. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli, who took the plea at a morning hearing, ordered the defendant to return for sentencing on June 26. Lynch was ordered released on his own recognizance. If Lynch fails to return for sentencing or violates the terms of the plea agreement, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. Lynch and three others, including one other top manager of the Coliseum, were arraigned on March 23 on a 29-count felony indictment including charges of conspiracy, embezzlement and bribery. The other defendants named in the indictment are former events manager Todd DeStefano; former technical manager Leopold Caudillo Jr.; music and event promoters Pasquale Rotella and Reza Gerami; and janitorial contractor Antonio (Tony) Estrada. Defendants Caudillo and Estrada have not been arrested or arraigned because they have been out of the country. The indictment alleged that Lynch and DeStefano, 39, participated in a variety of schemes beginning in 2006 that siphoned money from the city- and county-owned stadium into their own pockets. Lynch resigned as general manager in February 2011. DeStefano, who quit in January 2011, allegedly received more than $1.8 million from deals negotiated with music and event promoters Rotella and Gerami, both 37. Although Lynch allegedly didn't profit from deals between DeStefano and the two promoters, the indictment alleged that he was aware of the agreements and facilitated DeStefano's arrangement with them. The indictment further alleged that Lynch did profit from his own arrangement with Tony Estrada, the owner of "Services for All Events," a janitorial company that cleaned the stadium. Estrada allegedly wrote 239 checks to Lynch totaling $385,000, giving some to Lynch and depositing others directly into a Miami bank account that Lynch set up. In return, Lynch allegedly authorized Estrada's company to bill the Coliseum at a higher rate.

********** Published: April 5, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 51