Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2015

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Metro report raised red flags about Electric Daisy Carnival organizer and its CEO


Sam Morris

A carnival ride is seen during the first night of the Electric Daisy Carnival early Saturday, June 9, 2012 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Click to enlarge photo

Electric Daisy Carnival founder Pasquale Rotella and reality TV and "Peepshow" star Holly Madison make their way through the crowd during the first night of the Electric Daisy Carnival early Saturday, June 9, 2012, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Many know that two people died after leaving the three-day Electric Daisy Carnival – a 31-year-old Florida man who died from injuries suffered after he was hit by a truck leaving the event and a 22-year-old University of Arizona student after falling from her 27th-story hotel room.

After those deaths, Daisy Carnival organizers responded by saying both were beyond the scope of the event.

The deaths do make more interesting, however, the difficulty Metro Police had in investigating Insomniac Inc., the business that puts on Electric Daisy Carnival, and its its chief operating officer, Pasquale Rotella. The investigation is standard operating procedure before issuing a privileged license to a temporary event like the EDC.

What kind of difficulty was encountered?

According to an investigation report obtained by the Sun, Metro wrote requests to various law enforcement agencies, did a local background check, a Department of Motor Vehicles inquiry and obtained records from various public and private sources.

Metro summarized its findings: “This investigation also revealed multiple Areas of Concern, all surrounding the character of Mr. Rotella and the business operations of Insomniac Inc.”

Any idea why Metro got that conclusion?

It’s well known that earlier this year, Rotella pleaded not guilty to 29 counts of conspiracy, bribery and embezzlement in California. He and another promoter are accused of paying $1.8 million to a former employee of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Metro report also notes that a 15-year-old girl died from overdosing on Ecstasy during the 2010 Carnival in L.A. The next year, the event moved to Las Vegas.

What else did the investigation report say?

That a Metro detective tried several times to contact Rotella within the 30 days that is allowed for an investigation after an application is received. Messages were left on his office phone. Rotella’s personal assistant called back and said Rotella would get back to the detective. He did not. About a week later, the personal assistant said she was “surprised” Rotella had not called back. She then reassured the detective Rotella would call back that day. Again, he did not.

So the county’s director of business license never got a nod of support from Metro?

Nope. “LVMPD cannot accurately complete this background investigation without a completed application and cooperation from Mr. Rotella,” the report says. “Without this critical information the investigative report is severely compromised, incomplete and of limited value to the licensing board.”

But the Insomniac received its license from the county’s Business Licensing department, obviously.

It did.

* * *

After a group called Taxpayers United of America flew into town last week, the Sun and local TV news reported its findings that hundreds of public employees throughout the state were estimated to be in line for millions – some individually getting that much – in retirement benefits.

The Sun used the “benefit calculator” of the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System to figure that if former UNLV Rebel basketball coach Lon Kruger retired at 65, he would more likely be entitled to about $5.5 million in benefits versus the $17 million that Taxpayers United estimated.

Since then, however, Taxpayers United has taken down all of its numbers pertaining to university system employees.


As was pointed out to the Sun, most university employees are not part of the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System.

Tony Allen, UNLV media relations, said that since 1970, all new university system faculty and professional staff are in a retirement plan that is not part of Nevada PERS. The university retirement plan now is “more like a 401(k)” retirement that is in place for many private-sector employees.

He added that “most if not all” of the UNLV employees listed in the Taxpayer’s United data are not part of Nevada PERS.

Why did Taxpayers United have this news conference?

Rae Ann McNeilly, Taxpayers United outreach coordinator, said the “big story” was how Nevada PERS is unwilling to release individual retirement information. PERS lost a lawsuit last December and was ordered to release the information. However, it filed an appeal arguing against the release. McNeilly also said Nevada should start considering putting all state employees into 401(k) plans, which would take taxpayers off the hook because the benefits would not be guaranteed.

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