Where and how the Coliseum scandal began

coliseumtorchressler.jpgA really nice, detailed and clearly told cover story in the LA Weekly by Gene Maddaus reconstructs how corruption and under-the-table payments at the Coliseum offices came to be commonplace under general manager Pat Lynch — while the appointed overseers on the Coliseum Commission failed to oversee. It came to light by accident, Maddaus says. From the top of the story:

In April 2010, Maria Rodriguez was cleaning the bleachers after a religious event at the L.A. Sports Arena when she stepped on a loose piece of plywood and fell seven feet to the floor. She landed on her neck and back, suffering two herniated discs. She was making minimum wage and could not pay her medical bills.

She worked for Tony Estrada, who ran the janitorial company contracted to clean the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the Sports Arena. He did not want to pay her bills, either — or report the injury to the workers' compensation system, which would cause his premiums to go up. He believed the Coliseum was at fault.

Estrada told her to send the bills to Pat Lynch, the Coliseum's general manager. But Lynch also refused to pay, arguing that Estrada should be held responsible because the woman worked for him.

Had they been able to resolve the matter amicably, it might all have ended there. Instead, the conflict led to a rift that would expose systemic graft at the Coliseum, destroying Lynch's career and sending Estrada into hiding in South America. A grand jury investigation ultimately led to charges of bribery, embezzlement and conspiracy against a half-dozen defendants, including Lynch, his erstwhile golden boy and two of the top promoters in the electronic dance music industry.

Two years after the accident, Rodriguez, 44, still walks with a cane....

Photo of 2009 Electric Daily Carnival at the Coliseum: Drew Ressler

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