BLOOMINGTON — The former manager of the city-owned arena has asked for an emergency court hearing to make his case for the return of more than $30,000 seized by the state as part of its embezzlement case against him.

John Y. Butler, owner of Central Illinois Arena Management, faces 41 counts of theft, money laundering, wire fraud and tax evasion in connection with his firm's 10-year management of the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum, now known as Grossinger Motors Arena.

Four other former arena staffers also face charges, including theft of public funds.

In a motion filed Friday, lawyers for Butler asked for an emergency hearing to address Butler's claim that the state illegally seized $31,430 from his bank accounts in September as part of the state police investigation into alleged theft of more than $1 million in city money.

During a hearing in January, prosecutors served Butler with notice that the state was seeking forfeiture of the money allegedly tied to criminal activity. A portion of the money that Butler said belonged to his son was released in December.

AT a recent hearing, defense lawyers Steven Beckett and Scott Kording asked a judge to allow them to file a challenge to the forfeiture and waive payment of a $3,000 bond that normally would accompany Butler's request that the money be returned.

The judge told the defense team that the forfeiture is a civil matter and not part of the criminal case.

The new defense filing in civil court asserts that the Illinois State Police conducted "an unreasonable and unlawful seizure" by taking money from Butler's accounts.

Butler's next hearing in his criminal case is set for April 3.

Charged along with Butler are Bart Rogers, former general manager of CIAM, Kelly W. Klein, assistant manager of finance at the time, Paul Grazer, former food and beverage director of CIAM and Jay Laesch, former finance director of BMI Concessions, the food and beverage service for the arena.  

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny