Subscribe for 33¢ / day

In this Sept. 29, 2017, file photo, John Y. Butler, left, president of Central Illinois Arena Management, follows Urbana lawyer Steven Beckett, as they leave court after Butler pleaded not guilty to taking more than $1 million in city money, money laundering, wire fraud and tax-related charges.

BLOOMINGTON — The state is seeking the forfeiture of more than $30,000 from the president of Central Illinois Arena Management in connection with the alleged theft of public money during the decade he oversaw the city-owned venue.

The lawyer for John Y. Butler was handed the forfeiture notice during court proceedings Tuesday where plans were made for hearings on several pending pretrial motions.

Butler is one of five former management officials charged with a total of 111 counts of theft, wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and conspiracy to commit tax evasion. Butler's firm managed U.S. Cellular Coliseum for 10 years before he declined to renew his contract with the city in 2016. The venue became Grossinger Motors Arena under subsequent management.

The state is seeking permission to keep about $31,000 from Butler's bank accounts based upon the state's theory that the money was acquired through illegal activity. The money has been under state control since state police obtained a warrant in September to seize the assets in multiple bank accounts owned by Butler and his sons.

Defense lawyer Steven Beckett noted the issue of Butler's money is the subject of a pending defense motion challenging the seizure warrant.

After the defense motion was filed in mid-December, assets from several accounts not related to Butler's business were released, including accounts belonging to his sons and a health savings account, according to court records.

Beckett and First Assistant State's Attorney Adam Ghrist agreed that the first matter to be resolved at a Feb. 23 hearing will be the state's allegation that one of Butler's lawyers should be removed from the case because of an alleged conflict of interest.

The state contends Scott Kording's representation of Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner creates a conflict for his work on behalf of Butler. Renner is a potential witness in the arena cases and has contacted the prosecution regarding the criminal charges, the state argued in its motion.

Other pending motions include defense filings asking that the state provide Butler with any co-defendant statements the state intends to use in its case against Butler. 

In its motion to dismiss charges, the defense alleges the state's attorney's office misled the grand jury that returned 44 indictments against Butler by failing to provide jurors with a copy of the contract between the defendant and the city. Jurors were denied the opportunity to determine if Butler's actions may have been backed up by the terms of the contract, the defense argued. 

Charged along with Butler are CIAM General Manager Bart Rogers and CIAM employees Jay C. Laesch, Paul E. Grazer and Kelly W. Klein.      

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny


McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

Load comments