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Trial delayed for former arena official

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BLOOMINGTON — The Sept. 10 trial date for a former member of the management team that supervised the city-owned arena has been postponed until October.

In indictments returned in September 2017, Bart Rogers is accused of stealing public money during the time he served as general manager of Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM), the firm hired by the city to oversee what was then U.S. Cellular Coliseum and what is now Grossinger Motors Arena.

A September jury trial set on those charges has been rescheduled for Oct. 15.

In July, the state filed a new charge against Rogers accusing him of illegally transferring $15,000 in 2013 from a CIAM bank account to Illinois Pro Sports, a company in which he served as a managing partner. Illinois Pro Sports is a former owner of The Thunder hockey team, now known as The Flying Aces.

First Assistant State's Attorney Brad Rigdon said the state intends to prosecute the two cases separately.  

Associate Judge Michael Stroh said Monday he expects to issue a ruling this week on a defense motion seeking dismissal of the initial seven charges.  Defense lawyer Stephanie Wong previously argued the accusations fall outside the time limits for filing such charges in Illinois. 

A similar motion by Wong on the first indictments was granted and the state later refiled the charges.

Rogers is one of five former CIAM executives accused of financial misconduct during the 10 years the company managed the city-owned venue.

A total of 111 indictments were returned last year against CIAM owner John Y. Butler; Paul Grazar, former food and beverage director for CIAM; Jay Laesch, former finance director for BMI Concessions; and Kelly Klein, the arena's former assistant general manager for finance. The indictments include theft, money laundering, wire fraud and tax-related offenses.

The comments from city officials about the complex criminal case against CIAM and its managers justifies moving at least one of the trials outside McLean County, according to a recently filed motion from lawyers for John Y. Butler.

Butler argues potential jurors have been prejudiced by negative remarks, including those comparing the working relationship between the city and CIAM to a Soviet gulag, his lawyers have argued. 

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

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