BLOOMINGTON — The current management firm for the city-owned arena is challenging a subpoena seeking financial records that could become part of the defense case for a former management official facing criminal charges.
The computerized financial records maintained by VenuWorks as part of its management agreement with the city are irrelevant to John Y. Butler's criminal case, Dawn Wall, VenuWorks' lawyer, argued Monday.
"VenuWorks never had any relationship with Mr. Butler," said Wall.
Butler, owner of Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM), faces multiple indictments related to alleged mismanagement during the 10 years his firm supervised operations at the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum, now known as Grossinger Motors Arena. Four other former management officials also were charged.
VeuWorks was hired in April 2016 to take over after CIAM's contract with the city ended.
If certain provisions of the city's financial arrangement with VenuWorks mirror the terms in place with CIAM, "it shows the (state's) theory of criminality is flawed," Butler's lawyer, Steven Beckett, told Judge William Yoder.
The implication that the city-owned facility lost money because CIAM "is fleecing it" would not stand up against financial data showing VenuWorks also has struggled to stay out of the red, said Beckett.
The judge said he will rule on the subpoena issue in the next two weeks.
Arguments were delayed Monday on Butler's challenge of a December 2016 search warrant for three years of financial records for CIAM and BMI Concessions, the food and beverage outlet for the venue. Records from Jan. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2016 were covered under the warrant.
Beckett has argued the indictments against Butler are premised on information gathered through improper search warrants obtained by Illinois State Police during its 18-month investigation into the arena's finances.
State police agents who went to Butler's Bloomington storage unit picked up 61 boxes of documents. Investigators did not examine the contents of the boxes to determine if the materials related only to those outlined in the search warrant, according to testimony in October from Special Agent Daniel Rossiter.
Rossiter is on medical leave until July 1 and was unable to attend Monday's hearing, said Assistant State's Attorney David Rossi.
In his acknowledgment of the months-long delay, Yoder noted the complex nature of the case but, he added, Butler "is entitled to some peace of mind in getting this case resolved."
An April 16 status hearing was set.
Butler is charged with theft, money laundering, wire fraud and tax-related offenses.
Criminal charges are pending against three other former arena officials accused in a total of 111 indictments returned by a McLean County grand jury in September 2017.
Bart Rogers, former CIAM general manager, is charged with theft.
Kelly W. Klein, the former assistant manager of finance at the venue, is charged with theft and money laundering. A ruling is expected soon on her recent motion to dismiss the charges.
Paul Grazar, CIAM's former food and beverage director, faces theft, money laundering, wire fraud and tax evasion charges.
A plea agreement reached in November between the state and Jay Laesch, former finance director of BMI Concessions, resulted in a sentence of probation on charges of money laundering and filing a fraudulent sales tax return.
Trial dates have not been set for the four defendants who are free on bond.