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LA Coliseum Execs Face Probe Over Excessive Pay, Conflict Of Interest Charges

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The city controller of Los Angeles announced plans on Wednesday to conduct a “top-to-bottom” audit of finances at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The announcement from Controller Wendy Greuel comes as stadium executives face conflict-of-interest allegations and complaints of excessive perks.

Home to two Olympics and USC football, the Coliseum is jointly operated by the state, Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles.

Greuel told KNX 1070 some managers at the stadium actually sought pay increases despite the scandals.

“We got a request from a office manager within the Coliseum commission to give raises to a number of the individuals on the coliseum staff, anywhere from 3 percent to 17 percent in one instance,” said Greuel.

In fact, Greuel apparently rejected a request by Coliseum officials to issue raises to more than 70 percent of employees, according to Deputy Controller for Communications Shannon Murphy.

The head of the Coliseum’s governing commission told the Los Angeles Times that he rescinded a $25,000 pay increase for finance director Ronald Lederkramer after Greuel raised questions about it last week.

Lederkramer was the official who oversaw the stadium’s finances throughout a scandal involving allegations of conflict of interest, excessive perks and poor fiscal oversight.

Commission President David Israel said he and other panel members did not know of Lederkramer’s raise or smaller ones given to other Coliseum employees, which were also canceled.

The Times reported earlier this year that two firms set up by the Coliseum’s then-events manager, Todd DeStefano, collected at least $1.8 million from companies doing business at the stadium and companion Sports Arena, which have been operating in the red.

At the same time, the Coliseum’s former general manager, Patrick Lynch, transferred to himself ownership of a Cadillac bought by the commission, records and interviews show, according to The Times.

Lederkramer billed the Coliseum for most of the costs of his personally leased Jaguar, in addition to the full premium for his auto insurance, according to documents obtained by The Times under the California Public Records Act.

Greuel told The Times that car allowances paid to Lederkramer and other Coliseum employees will be part of her investigation.

“Whether it is incompetence or illegal activity, it’s wrong,” said Greuel. “Items that we’ve been reading in the newspaper have indicated that there were huge problems with the management of the staff [at the coliseum].”

Lederkramer made about $195,000 last fiscal year. The now-rescinded 17 percent raise would have lifted his base salary from about $145,000 to $170,000, according to records released to The Times by Greuel’s office.

The commission’s interim general manager, John Sandbrook, approved raises for 20 other Coliseum employees, although most were increases of 5 percent or less, the records show. Israel said all the raises have been shelved, pending a review of salaries by an outside consultant.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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