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BLOOMINGTON — Two of four former management officials of the city-owned arena were in court Wednesday on charges related to alleged financial misconduct. 

Five former management-level staff members of what was known as U.S. Cellular Coliseum were indicted in September 2017 on a total of 111 charges related to the 10 years Central Illinois Arena Management handled operations of the downtown sports and entertainment venue. CIAM's contract to manage what is now Grossinger Motors Arena ended in March 2016.

Kelly Klein of Normal, former CIAM assistant general manager of finance, is charged with theft and money laundering. Defense lawyer Joel Brown filed a motion to dismiss charges against Klein.

Associate Judge Michael Stroh set a Jan. 11 hearing on Klein's motion.

Brown told a judge in November that talks with the state to resolve the criminal case had produced no results. Klein's lawyer said he would be filing a series of pretrial motions ahead of an anticipated trial.

Bart Rogers of Morton also was in court Wednesday for a status hearing on theft charges.

Stephanie Wong, the defense lawyer for the former general manager of CIAM, was given documents she requested in a subpoena to the city of Bloomington. Wong requested two months to review what she estimated would be thousands of records from the city.

Rogers will be back in court Feb. 6.

Jay Laesch of Heyworth, the former director of BMI Concessions, pleaded guilty in November to money laundering and filing a fraudulent sales tax return and was sentenced to 30 months on probation and fined $1. His plea deal requires him to cooperate with the state and testify at the trials of his co-defendants, if requested by the state.

In a statement of facts to support the plea agreement, the state characterized Laesch as a middleman who did not benefit financially from the alleged scheme conducted by other defendants. 

John Y. Butler of Bloomington, CIAM president, faces theft, money laundering, wire fraud and tax-related charges.

Butler has a Dec. 20 hearing on a motion to suppress evidence. The defense has argued state police improperly seized documents outside the scope approved by a judge in a search warrant.

Paul Grazar of Normal, the former food and beverage director for CIAM, is charged with theft, money laundering and tax offenses.  

All four remaining defendants are free on bond. 

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

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McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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