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Arena theft trial halted during jury selection

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BLOOMINGTON (HOI) - The head of a company that used to operate the city-government owned indoor sports arena in Downtown Bloomington won't be tried for fraud until next month even though some jury members were picked on Monday.

No reason was cited for delaying the trial for Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM) owner John Butler until September 9. Butler, 60, faces dozens of criminal charges for a scheme costing Bloomington taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars during the time CIAM was hired by the city to run what used to be called the Coliseum, and is now Grossinger Motors Arena.

McLean County State's Attorney Don Knapp declined comment, citing rules about pending prosecutions. Butler's lawyer, Steve Beckett, was not immediately available for comment.

Jury selection in Butler's trial started Monday, and lawyers picked four of the 12 jurors for the panel.

The case has been pending for three years when prosecutors first charged Butler and four other CIAM executives three years ago. Two co-defendants, Paul Grazar and and Jay Laesch, pleaded guilty earlier to reduced charges, but didn't have to pay restitution because prosecutors said the pair did not benefit financially from their crimes.

Grazar admitted under-reporting to the state food and beverage sales at the arena. Co-defendant, Bart Rogers, is awaiting trial on 20 felony charges and has a status hearing set October 13.

A judge dismissed charges against a fifth defendant, Kelly Klein.

Howard Packowitz

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