BLOOMINGTON — The former director of operations for the city-owned arena is facing a reduced theft charge because the amount he allegedly stole is less than originally thought.

The plea hearing set for Curtis Webb was postponed Monday to Dec. 27 as lawyers for the state and the defense continue to work out details of restitution the 46-year-old defendant may be liable for as part resolving the case filed in December 2016.

Defense lawyer Stephanie Wong told Judge Casey Costigan she is waiting on some documents from Webb to complete the plea negotiations.

The newly-filed theft count is a Class 3 felony, a step below the initial charge of theft of government property. Webb could receive a sentence ranging from probation to two to five years in prison if he pleads guilty to the new, lesser charge.

Webb pleaded not guilty to the new charge on Monday.

It is common for the state, in cases resolved by a guilty plea, to dismiss the more serious charges when a new, less serious charge is filed.

State's Attorney Jason Chambers said Monday that the lesser charge is based on additional police investigation into the alleged theft.

"Subsequent investigation has shown that a lesser amount than was initially thought was (allegedly) taken," by Webb, said Chambers.

Charges accuse Webb of improperly using VenuWorks credit cards for personal expenses and travel.

VenuWorks reimbursed the city $16,666 for Webb's expenses charged to the credit card without permission. The firm that manages what was then called U.S. Cellular Coliseum later paid the city an additional $8,011 in moving expenses and $16,358 in authorized travel costs related to Webb.

In October, VenuWorks said it was making arrangements to pay more than $100,000 to the city of Bemidji, Minn. for Webb's alleged misappropriation of money when he held a similar role in that community.

Webb has not been charged in Minnesota.

More than 100 criminal charges unrelated to the Webb theft case are pending against five former management officials who worked for Central Illinois Arena Management, the firm that managed the facility before VenuWorks took over in April 2016.

Former CIAM president John Y. Butler is accused of taking more than $1 million in city money between May 2010 and March 2016 as well as money laundering, wire fraud and tax related charges. Bart Rogers, former general manager of CIAM, is accused of theft of government funds; Kelly Klein, assistant manager of finance, faces theft and money laundering charges; Paul Grazar, former CIAM food and beverage director is charged with theft, money laundering and tax evasion and Jay C. Laesch, ex-finance director, is charged with theft, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. 

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny

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