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Figures in financial scandal no longer on Coliseum payroll

Leopold Caudillo Jr. and David Shea are no longer working at the facility after revelations of payments to a firm founded by the two men.

October 26, 2011|By Paul Pringle and Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times
  • Coliseum technology manager Leopold Caudillo, Jr., at a meeting of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission in July 2011.
Coliseum technology manager Leopold Caudillo, Jr., at a meeting of the… (Mariah Tauger / For The Times )

Two Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum employees caught up in a financial scandal at the stadium are no longer working there, officials said.

Leopold Caudillo Jr., who was the Coliseum's longtime technology manager, was placed on paid administrative leave last month after The Times, citing records and interviews, reported that he directed stadium business to a private firm he launched with a co-worker, David Shea.

Shea went on medical leave after the report, according to Coliseum sources who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Representatives of the Coliseum's governing commission confirmed that Caudillo and Shea were dropped from the payroll earlier this month, but would not say whether the two resigned or were fired.

"The commission will not provide any further comment on individual personnel matters," the panel's attorney, Principal Deputy County Counsel Thomas Faughnan, said in an email.

Attempts to reach Caudillo and Shea on Tuesday were unsuccessful. Both have denied doing anything wrong.

City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, a Coliseum Commission member who demanded last month that the panel fire the men, said Tuesday that "they should have gone a long time ago."

"I think it should have happened when it was first found out that [Caudillo and Shea] had a dual capacity of working for this company and the Coliseum," said Parks, whose council district includes the stadium.

He said he had not been told whether Caudillo and Shea were fired.

Parks has also called for the ouster of interim General Manager John Sandbrook and Finance Director Ronald Lederkramer. He said Sandbrook has done a poor job of correcting financial abuses and Lederkramer was at fault for approving the payments to HH Tech, the firm founded by Caudillo and Shea.

Faughnan said Lederkramer has insisted he did not know that Caudillo and Shea were connected to HH Tech. Lederkramer is now on medical leave.

HH Tech has received about $30,000 in Coliseum payments since 2007, most of it last year, according to invoices and other documents obtained under the California Public Records Act. Caudillo, who had worked at the stadium since 1997, was identified as the purchaser on 13 of 14 Coliseum orders for HH Tech services.

He said in a recent interview that he no longer owned HH Tech and that Shea was the current owner. Asked by The Times if he was the owner, Shea did not respond. The most recent records available from the California secretary of state's office listed Caudillo as the company's only manager.

State law generally prohibits government employees from making, participating in or otherwise influencing decisions by their agency if they have a financial interest in the outcome.

Caudillo is also among several managers who billed the Coliseum for thousands of dollars in car expenses. He bought a Lincoln Town Car from the Coliseum at a steep discount and then kept the government license plates on the vehicle for five years, records and interviews showed. He was ordered to remove the plates and register the car in his name after The Times began inquiring about Coliseum expenses.

The departures of Caudillo and Shea represent the latest shake-up at the Coliseum since the financial scandal broke eight months ago.

Patrick Lynch, who was the stadium's general manager for 17 years, quit in February after The Times reported that he approved another executive's side business dealings with a concert promoter that staged raves at the Coliseum and companion Sports Arena.

The Times reported Sunday that Lynch, while running the stadium, received more than $300,000 in private payments from a Coliseum contractor, who deposited the money in a Miami bank, according to interviews and records.

Lynch's lawyer has said the money had nothing to do with Coliseum operations and was the janitorial contractor's contribution to a boat deal between the two men. But the contractor, Tony Estrada, has told Coliseum attorneys that the money came from an increase in his billing rate of about $1 per hour for each janitor, approved by Lynch.

The district attorney's office is investigating the payments from Estrada, who has declined to comment and stopped working at the Coliseum several months ago.

Also under investigation by the district attorney and the state Fair Political Practices Commission is Todd DeStefano, the former Coliseum events manager, who ran two firms that collected payments from the concert promoter and several other companies that did business with the stadium while he worked there.

DeStefano's firms received at least $1.8 million from those entities, records and interviews show. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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