Final defendant in Coliseum theft case pleads guilty to misdemeanor charge

Local News

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Four years of legal battles ended in a McLean County courtroom, after the final offender charged with misconduct for his role in managing Bloomington’s arena plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

Bart Rogers, the former general manager of Bloomington’s Grossinger Motors Arena (FKA U.S. Cellular Coliseum) was among the group of five officials with Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM) who had over 100 indictments against them.

CIAM and the group Rogers was apart of were accused of theft, money laundering, tax evasion, and other felonies that ultimately cost the city of Bloomington more than $750,000 from the arena.

Friday, Rogers entered a plea agreement and plead guilty and agreed to pay the city of Bloomington a restitution fee of $20,500.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the state dismissed 14 other charges against Rogers.

The state charged Rogers with a Class A misdemeanor of theft and accused Rogers of transferring $15,000 of the arena’s money to Illinois Pro Sports LLC. Rogers previously worked for this organization, according to his lawyer.

The group was the majority owner of a former hockey team that called the arena home.

Although Rogers pleaded guilty, he still maintains he did nothing wrong and issued a four-page written statement after the hearing.

Rogers said he agreed to plead guilty after “thousands of dollars in attorney fees and expenses” and said, “it was time to put closure on this whole ordeal without going through not one but two trials.”

Rogers’ defense attorney Stephanie Wong commented after the hearing and said Rogers’ time with the arena “put the Coliseum on the map.”

According to Rogers and Wong, the money he transferred from the arena’s account to Illinois Pro Sports LLC was payment for revenue lost after hockey games were moved around to make room for two “sold-out” Jason Aldean concerts that brought in a profit of $176,318 for the two nights and more than $1.2 million for the visitors bureau.

Rogers said “the criminal intent, scheme, and selfish play, if that were my intentions, were to turn away the Jason Aldean concert (goers)” because he owned 20% of the hockey team.

With the guilty plea, Rogers said, he can “move on” with his life again.

Rogers is now the Chief Operating Officer and Owner of the Peoria Rivermen.

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