The L.A. Times reports that former Coliseum contractor Tony Estrada, a fugitive charged with embezzlement and conspiracy in the L.A. Coliseum scandal, says he's the whistleblower, and that superiors ignored his tips about wrongdoing for years at the taxpayer-owned stadium.
Masked during Skype interviews, Estrada, 72, said he departed the U.S. before being charged, and does not intend to return. He claims to be "moving around" Latin America.
Estrada has been at large since March when he was indicted with three former Coliseum managers and two rave promoters.
Estrada regards himself as a whistle-blower — and some Coliseum officials described him that way in the past — because he came forward to tell a government lawyer and an outside investigator about alleged kickbacks he paid to former stadium General Manager Patrick Lynch and about other purported misconduct by stadium employees. Those payments are the basis of the charges against Estrada, who said Lynch pressured him for money as a condition of keeping his janitorial contract.
Max Huntsman, the prosecutor in the case, does not consider Estrada a whistleblower because of his alleged payments to Lynch over a period of several years. "It's never wise to pay kickbacks to public officials and then complain when they don't stay bought," Huntsman told the Times.