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Curtis Webb, former executive director of what was then known as U.S. Cellular Coliseum, leaves the bench with his former attorney, Stephanie Wong, after pleading not guilty in November to his alleged misuse of a credit card while he was an employee of VenuWorks.

DAVID PROEBER, THE PANTAGRAPH

BLOOMINGTON — A plea deal expected to be finalized Friday for the former director of operations for the city-owned arena was set aside when he arrived in court with a new lawyer.

Curtis Webb was charged in December 2016 with theft of government money during his tenure with VenuWorks, the firm hired to oversee the multi-purpose sports and entertainment center now known as Grossinger Motors Arena.

The allegations related to Webb's alleged misuse of a VenuWorks credit card for personal expenses and travel.

The state added a lower-level felony charge in November that carries a possible sentence of probation or two to five years in prison.  It was anticipated the state would dismiss the more serious charges in exchange for a guilty plea to the new charge and a pledge to make restitution.

Webb's attorney at the time, Stephanie Wong, told the judge in November that the state and defense were working out details of the restitution agreement.

After the hearing Friday, Webb's new lawyer, Daniel O'Day of Peoria, said a plea agreement is still possible, but first he must review the extensive amount of records related to the case.

Judge Casey Costigan told O'Day he wants the case — filed more than a year ago — to stay on track toward a resolution.

"We are going to keep this moving," said the judge. A March 2 hearing is set to review the status of the case.

McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers said in November that the lower-level felony reflects a smaller amount of money authorities now estimate Webb stole. 

In October, VenuWorks said it was making arrangements to pay more than $100,000 to the city of Bemidji, Minn. related to Webb's alleged misappropriation of money when he served in a similar role in that community. No charges have been filed in Minnesota against Webb.

The allegations involve the allgeged theft of more than $1 million by CIAM owner John Y. Butler between May 2010 and March 2016.  Theft, money laundering and tax charges are among the charges facing other former CIAM employees Bart Rogers, Kelly Klein, Paul Grazar and Jay Laesch.

CIAM managed the arena for about 10 years before its contract expired in 2016 and VenuWorks was hired.

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny

Reporter

Reporter for The Pantagraph.