Insomniac Events CEO Pasquale Rotella, whose company has been promoting successful dance festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival and Nocturnal Wonder for nearly a decade, appeared in a Los Angeles court on Friday to surrender to charges in connection with a corruption scandal involving the city’s Memorial Coliseum venue, reports the Los Angeles Times.
While the L.A. District Attorney’s office has not publicly stated the nature of the charges, they are believed to tie in to a long-running investigation into the Coliseum’s practices. Todd DeStefano, the former events manager at the historic venue, had other holdings that reportedly received $1.8 million by Insomniac and Go Ventures, which produced the long-running Halloween event Monster Massive at the Sports Arena on Coliseum grounds. Electric Daisy Carnival was also held at the Coliseum until 2010, when a 15-year-old girl was found dead outside the festival, resulting in its relocation to Las Vegas. According to Times reports, other companies also paid DeStefano.
The deals were approved by Patrick Lynch, general manager of the Coliseum, despite rules banning such apparent conflicts of interest as both DeStefano and Lynch were considered government regulators. Lynch, DeStefano and Go Ventures’ Reza Germani were all arrested yesterday.
Insominac attorney Gary Jay Kaufman issued a statement vigorously denying any wrongdoing on Rotella’s part. “Pasquale Rotella has always acted lawfully and appropriately with respect to all his dealings at the Coliseum,” reads the statement. “Any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Rotella by the District Attorney are completely baseless and flat-out wrong, both on the law and on the facts. In the meantime it is business as usual for Insomniac…No events will be impacted.”
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Rolling Stone recently spoke with Rotella for an upcoming story on the Las Vegas dance scene. During the interview, Rotella addressed Insomniac’s reputation, citing the success of last year’s Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas as proof of the company’s improved image since 2010. “That EDC Vegas went on without any problem after there was that much attention was a real big reason why so many more doors have opened to us for new cities, new venues,” Rotella said. “We’ve worked really hard to protect what we love, and as a result, people see that we care and that measures can be taken to do these events safely.”
On June 25th and 26th, 2010, the Electric Daisy Carnival brought in more than 100,000 jubilant revelers per night to the Los Angeles Coliseum. It should have been a triumphant weekend for Insomniac, but the festival was marred when 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez was found dead outside the Coliseum grounds, having overdosed after being brought to a local hospital with ecstasy in her system.
The tragedy resulted in a crackdown on the L.A. dance festival scene that, among other things, forced EDC to Vegas in 2011 and moved all festival events to outlying San Bernardino (Insomniac does still promote several club nights in Los Angeles.) Since last year’s success in Vegas, the EDC has expanded this year to include events in New York and Puerto Rico. It will return to Las Vegas the weekend of June 8th for a three-day event that is expected to again bring in more than 200,000 fans.