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Court dismisses case against Blockfest founder

A money laundering charge against the founder of Finland’s Blockfest festival has been dismissed by the Helsinki District Court.

Kalle Kallonen was accused of transporting €10,000 in drug money from Finland to Spain in May 2021.

However, Iltalehti reports the charge was thrown out after the court ruled evidence pertaining to the case acquired by the FBI from encrypted messaging app Anom was inadmissible.

A similar charge against Kallonen’s co-accused – Finnish rap artist William, aka Ville Virtanen – was also dropped, with the court ordering the state to reimburse the pair’s legal costs of around €5,000 each.

Both Kallonen and Virtanen denied the allegations, which were part of a larger criminal case involving 10 people

The report adds that the case is likely to continue before the court of appeal.

Both Kallonen and Virtanen denied the allegations, which were part of a larger criminal case involving 10 people in total. Several other defendants have been jailed, mainly for aggravated drug offences.

Founded in 2008 in Tampere, Finland, Blockfest has grown to become one of the biggest hip-hop festivals in the Nordic countries. Taking place at the Tampere stadium, the two-day festival attracts some 75,000 festival-goers each year.

In 2019, Blockfest was acquired by Live Nation Finland following years of collaboration with the festival.

 


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Bogus Justin Timberlake booking agent admits fraud

A woman has admitted scamming a charity out of $100,000 by posing as a booking agent for artists including Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Drake and Ed Sheeran.

Atlanta, Georgia-based Carissa Scott pleaded guilty to one count of fraud following a hearing in a New York federal court earlier this week.

Under the name Canvas Media Group, Scott and fellow defendant Nancy Jean were charged with conspiring to defraud investors in events including a December 2019 benefit concert for the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, set up by relatives of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Prosecutors said Canvas Media “falsely represented that they could book top-tier musical acts to perform at the concert”, and sent organisers a contract asking for $500,000 for his performance and a $275,000 deposit. One investor in the benefit show subsequently sent a $100,000 partial deposit to Jean and Scott.

Law360 reports that bank records allegedly show Scott and Jean immediately started using the money on leasing a Mercedes-Benz, making large cash withdrawals and going shopping.

Scott also reported she could book other artists for the concert, including Drake, Flo Rida and Ed Sheeran

According to legal papers, the investor requested proof of the booking when Timberlake’s social media account failed to mention or promote the event.

The investor then received a telephone call from an “unidentified male”, who falsely claimed to be Timberlake’s manager. He stated that Timberlake would perform at the benefit for an increased fee of “between $800,000 and $1 million”. When the investor baulked at the demands, Canvas Media said Bruno Mars could perform instead for $600,000.

Scott also reportedly claimed she could book other artists for the concert, including Drake, Flo Rida and Ed Sheeran.

The real managers for Mars and Timberlake later told investigators they had never heard of Canvas Media and had never spoken to Scott and Jean, who were arrested in January 2020.

Scott, who has been ordered to pay $100,000 (€86,500) in restitution, is due to be sentenced on 24 February next year. The status of the case against Jean is currently unclear.

 


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Four sentenced over Madonna stage collapse

Four professionals including the former head of operations for Live Nation France have been sentenced, following the collapse of a stage in France in 2009 that killed two people.

Technicians had been setting up the stage at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille for a Madonna concert when the partially-built roof fell in, bringing down a crane.

Charles Criscenzo, a 52-year-old French worker, and Charles Prow, a 23-year-old Briton, were killed while eight other workers sustained injuries in the accident. One of the injured workers took his own life two years later.

Yesterday (17 February), the magistrates of the court of Marseille (south), where the concert was to be held in 2009, convicted four defendants of manslaughter and involuntary damages, and acquitted three other defendants.

Live Nation France was ordered to pay a €150,000 fine, and Tour Concept €50,000

After a decade-long investigation, Jacqueline Bitton, at the time head of the French operations for Live Nation, received the most severe sentence: a suspended two-year prison term and a fine of €20,000.

Tim Norman, head of the British firm Edwin Shirley Group (ESG) which owned the stage, received a suspended two-year term as well as a €15,000 fine.

A manager at a French subcontractor hired by ESG, Tour Concept France, was given a suspended 18-month sentence and a €10,000 fine, while a British foreman hired for the job by ESG got an 18-month suspended sentence.

Live Nation France was ordered to pay a €150,000 fine, and Tour Concept €50,000.

After the concert was cancelled, Madonna said she was “shocked” by what happened and sent her condolences to the families of the victims. She did not appear at the trial.

The 60,000-seater Velodrome is France’s second-biggest sports arena and home to the Olympique de Marseille football club.

 


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