Even those of you who are part of the corrupt LA political machine or lived so high off it for so long or suck up to it for petty favors will have to admit that Patrick Lynch leads a charmed life of freedom and luxury that 99 percent of us might envy when he ought to be locked up in prison for much of the 15 years he faced for being the kingpin in a conspiracy to rip off the public.
Of course, the longtime Memorial Coliseum general manager is still a despicable little crook and abject failure at his job even if he got the deal of the century because his bosses were a long list of city and county elected officials and appointees of the governor whose own failure and even complicity in his crimes would have been exposed if Lynch went to trial.
Sensitive as always to embarrassing those in high places, District Attorney Steve Cooley made sure that what they knew, when they knew it and what they did about it would not be exposed.
He let Lynch off with a single count of conflict of interest and dropped nine others involving the far more serious charges of conspiracy, embezzlement, bribery and kickbacks that his five criminal pals still face.
Lynch did suffer the humiliation of spending several days in county jail and being brought into court in a blue jumpsuit and having to pay back $385,000 of the money he stole taking his share of the loot from deals like cutting deals for the Coliseum to pay an extra $1 an hour per employee for contracted janitorial services — money that went into his pocket, not the lowly people who cleaned the stadiums.
There are thousands of people in prison for long stretches who did far less wrong, showing just how great it is to be a public official. They not only get great pay — $277,000 a year in Lynch’s case — plus spectacular pensions and a get-out-of-jail-free card unlike ordinary civilians who don’t stand a chance.
Where’s the outrage over this? Why isn’t the press calling for Cooley’s head instead of blandly noting “some observers said (the deal) could be viewed as highly favorable to Lynch,” as the LA Times noted in passing, or as “a slap on the wrist … a small price to pay for arrogantly violating the public trust,” as the Daily News characterized it.
What Lynch, did to the historic Coliseum — only venue in the world to host two Olympics, a World Series, Super Bowl and even World Cup game — in his 17 years as general manager was a crime itself, one that allowed him to become a multi-millionaire while the facilities decayed.
When he took over management of the Coliseum and Sports Arena, they still were home to professional football and professional basketball. Now, after years of staggering losses and mismanagement, it’s about to become a public gift without public benefit to the University of Southern California.
Pro sports were long gone by the time Lynch was fired a year ago over a catastrophic “Rave” concert – Lynch’s last hope for bringing in revenue, which is sort of like the failed moviemaker who turns to porn.
In the aftermath of 15-year-old girl dying of an ecstasy overdose, 200 medical emergencies and 60 arrests, the incompetent bumbling boobs who constituted the Coliseum Commission – the officials who enjoyed so many privileges and freebies thanks to their roles — had no intention of doing anything until the LA Times exposed some of what had been going on.
So they went into butt-covering mode and fired Lynch and the mastermind of this conspiracy, the man he anointed to be his assistant general manager, Todd DeStefano, who was double dipping by giving contracts to his own company, taking kickbacks and stealing every dime he could with support from and knowledge of his boss.
It’s all laid out in the petition to freeze the defendants assets, which is great reading if you need to get your blood boiling. (86501069-Coliseum-Petition-186-11)
Here’s a few excerpts quoting investigator Deren Brady that show how DeStefano was the initiator of the wrongdoing and that Lynch was aware of and approving what was going on as well as sharing in the profits.
Defendants Gerami and Rotella (Rave promoters) paid DeStefano in excess of $1.8 million in order to continue to hold the events they promoted at the Coliseum through contracts that DeStefano negotiated to the benefit of the promoters, thereby saving them significant sums of money, and to the detriment of the Coliseum which lost revenue by the reduced costs as well as the payments diverted to DeStefano’s personal business accounts. Rotella and Gerami paid DeStefano to directly lobby for them to save them at least $1 million by virtue of his position as a Coliseum insider who affected the contract for their events and the amount of rent paid to the Coliseum. Lynch became aware of the relationship and allowed it to continue.
(Finance Director and Assistant GM Ronald) Lederkramer believes the reason Lynch promoted DeStefano (to Assistant GM) was to prevent him (Lederkramer) from supervising and watching DeStefano’s activities. Accounting procedures changed with DeStefano in this position. Generally accounting settlements would be seen by the finance department and any changes would be made prior to the bill going to the promoter. DeStefano operated differently. DeStefano would show the bill to the promoter prior to bringing it to the finance department for a final stamp of approval. Changes could not be made at this time because DeStefano had already agreed with the promoter on the final billing.
According to Lederkramer, DeStefano directly influenced the amount of revenue received by the Coliseum for rent for these events. DeStefano argued strenuously for reduced rental rates for the rave promoters, Gerami and Rotella, even though the gross amount of money generated by these events steadily increased over the years. Lederkramer provided me with a chart of two Go Ventures events showing the attendance, gross ticket sales and rent received by the Coliseum. The revenue increased and the rent decreased. Notably, DeStefano only argued for the rent reduction from the “Raves,” but not on behalf of other events. Lynch agreed to the reduced rents.
It is my (investigator Brady’s) belief that Rotella and Gerami paid DeStefano not only to be allowed to continue to hold their events at the Coliseum, but to directly lobby for them to save millions of dollars from his inside ability to affect the contract for the events and the amount of rent paid to the Coliseum. Lynch became aware of the relationship and allowed it to continue. I believe one of the reasons this was done was to allow Lynch to continue to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks Lynch was receiving from (Antonio) Estrada (the janitorial services contractor kicking back money to Lynch).
In October or November of 2009, Lederkramer presented Lynch with an analysis of the cost of Estrada’s business. The analysis showed the Coliseum could save over $400,000 per year by bidding and going with another company. Lynch ignored the analysis and continued with Estrada’s company. Lynch has full power over managerial decisions and is ultimately responsible for making the decisions. For the first few years, Estrada had a contract for his services, but eventually was paid based only upon what Lynch told Lederkramer to pay him. If the rate would increase, Lynch would simply tell Lederkramer what to pay him. Estrada would bill the Coliseum accordingly
Beginning in 2009, defendant Lynch facilitated DeStefano’s crimes by permitting DeStefano to continue to run the events promoted by Rotella and Gerami despite DeStefano’s personal financial interest in those same events of which Lynch was notified. Further, defendant Lynch facilitated a scheme by DeStefano to embezzle $70,0000 for an exclusive marketing and sales agreement between the Coliseum and Coca-Cola.
What is so grievous about this is that it is hardly the first time that prominent officials elected or appointed who are part of the LA political machine get off so lightly while fringe players and small time officials get the book thrown at them.
Think about how this plays in the gang-infested areas of poverty where young black and Latino men get shipped off to prison for less anti-social crimes than Patrick Lynch committed.
This is the kind of double standard that tears at our social fabric, eats at the soul of our community and allows for rampant corruption at the highest levels of society with the passive approval of the civic and business elite.