Once known as the U.S. Cellular Coliseum, one citizen probed into finances, led to investigation
BLOOMINGTON – The Bloomington Pantagraph is reporting Monday afternoon that "Five former management officials of the city-owned arena face a total of 111 indictments accusing them of stealing city funds, money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy, filing false sales tax returns and conspiracy to commit tax evasion."
What the Pantagraph does not mention is an 18-month-long investigations by the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Revenue were set into place by one persistent woman with a news blog that is committed to government transparency – Diane Benjamin of BLNNews.com.
The Edgar County Watchdogs hail Benjamin's efforts in an update posted Monday
Thanks go to Diane Benjamin, BLNNEWS.COM, for her relentless pursuit of public records!
Diane’s pursuit of these records included her first ever lawsuit, filed in hand-written form, after the City of Bloomington and its disgraced Mayor Tari Renner unlawfully withheld public records under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Pantagraph writes:
The indictments, returned Sept. 20 by a McLean County grand jury, were unsealed Monday after all five defendants posted bond.
Charged are John Y. Butler and Bart Rogers of Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM), and their employees Jay C. Laesch, Paul E. Grazar and Kelly W. Klein.
The charges follow an 18-month-long investigation by Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Revenue into alleged mismanagement of funds at the city-owned facility, then known as U.S. Cellular Coliseum. The probe was initiated after Bloomington police cited a conflict of interest in reviewing CIAM's operations.
On her website, Benjamin did not boast about her efforts, although she's been diligently working to get to the bottom of the city's expenditures. When Illinois Review spoke with her earlier this year, she said that she was waiting to hear if anything would come from the State Police's investigation she knew at the time was underway.
Benjamin wrote on BLNNews.com Monday:
The fraud could not have happened if the City had performed even a slightest oversight of the asset they forced citizens to pay for. [Former City Manager] David Hales should be listed in the indictment along with everyone who has been on the Council since I started writing about the fraud YEARS ago. The two exceptions were Judy Stearns and Kevin Lower who attempted to force an investigation when professional hockey turned into junior hockey. They were shut down by Hales, Renner and the rest of the Council.
WOW, great job Diane!!!
Oh and great work by the Bloomington police, McLean county state’s attorney, Illinois state police, FBI, Illinois Attorney General’s office…… NOT.
All those tax supported government agencies… NADDA
It took a patriot who sacrified time, money and safety.
Question: is there a gov’t agency responsible for checking the accounting books of local govt?? Or is that saftey valve a responsiblity of the locality?
The States Attorneys’ office has a Public Corruption Division (PCD) but it really is set up as a placebo agency. By the way, the Illinois Attorney Disciplinary Board is set up the same way.
In the past, armed with incontrovertible evidence, (i.e. City Attorney acting as Bond Counsel as well as having financial interest in approval of same development bonds, City Fathers failing to execute results of election with respect to increasing/decreasing number of Wards in City, Election Board altering election outcome during canvas by just not including certain precincts in vote tally, etc.), I heard more noise from the crickets in my garage than from the PCD.
PCD, annoyed after years of citizen group persistence, finally cuts to the chase and informs they won’t do anything, “that’s what elections are for.”
This is Illinois.
Thank you Diane Benjamin and Kevin Gerrard for filing foil requests and keeping after the truth.
Media used to have that job, but they forced citizens to do their job since they aren’t capable anymore.
All of us that BELIEVE need to pray for protection for
Diane, as Truth is Hate Speech to those that Hate the
I’m curious. Are there any other ‘whistle blowers’ posting on IR?
But I thought businesses would take care of us and we don’t need bigger government and regulations.
I wonder if Adam Andrzejewski had a role in “opening the books” in this?
There are auditor companies specializing in governmental agencies and township governments. My experience with one came down to two lovely young ladies of little experience spending a few hours “inspecting” our township accounts.
This apparently did not include a review of all the RED INK on the computer, left there by previous board members who took the easy way out for four years by “rolling over” each previous years’ budget, leaving no sound basis for formulating a valid budget for the next year.
From my experience, these “auditors” operate like blind-folded men in a dark room…
…like Sgt. Schultz, they see “Nothing, Noth-THING.”
I advise anyone newly elected to office to order a forensic audit going back ten years, to discover what the truth really is. If other board members refuse, for ANY reason, be suspicious, then squeal like Hell to the voters and the newspapers.
The liberal media is more interested in supervising formation of public opinion with their left-wing propaganda. The most basic form of mind control is repetition. The reason the colluding liberal media all repeat the about same narrative.