Crime

Felony charge filed against man accused of stealing ‘Belleville 200’ concert payments

A file photo shows the Beach Boy concert during the Belleville 200 celebration last fall.
A file photo shows the Beach Boy concert during the Belleville 200 celebration last fall. News-Democrat

The concert promoter accused of stealing $86,000 from the Belleville Cultural Enrichment Organization instead of paying musical acts that performed during the city’s bicentennial celebration last year now faces criminal charges in addition to a civil suit filed early this year.

Alejandro Martinez-Flores, 35, of Ava, is on the run, police said.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly announced Friday that Martinez-Flores faces a single count of theft after allegedly keeping for himself a portion of money bicentennial organizers paid him that he was obligated to forward to musical acts that performed during the celebration.

Theft is a Class 2 felony that carries a prison term of between three and seven years.

According to a civil suit filed in St. Clair County Court on Jan. 13, the organization in separate installments paid Martinez-Flores’ company a total of $148,750 between September 2013 and June 2014 — $15,000 as a contractual fee and the rest as payments for musical acts that included the Beach Boys — but only $47,750 ever made it to the performers.

The organization sued for the repayment of $86,000 that was never paid to the performers, plus repayment of the $15,000 contractual fee and court costs.

Bicentennial organizers paid the acts what they were owed in full through other channels upon learning their original payments made through Gorilla Grid Media, the company Martinez-Flores owns, were not delivered.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert, who also is the president of the Belleville Cultural Enrichment Organization, said he was happy the charges against Martinez-Flores were filed.

“I’ll be happier when they get him in custody and when we get some restitution I’ll be the most happy,” Eckert said. “It’s sad. He came highly recommend by a lot of people to work with us. Something in his character drifted greatly, and he took advantage of the situation.”

According to Kelly’s announcement, Martinez-Flores also is charged with one count of deceptive practices stemming from a separate incident. He is accused of writing a $20,000 check dated July 15 as partial repayment of a $50,000 loan he received from Robert “Chick” Fritz of Fritz Distributing at 2351 Mascoutah Avenue in Belleville. The charge against Martinez-Flores states he knew the check he wrote Fritz would bounce.

Deceptive practices is a Class 4 felony punishable by one to three years in prison. Fritz was not available for comment Friday.

Belleville Police Detective Sgt. Mark Heffernan said a search for Martinez-Flores in Ava Friday came up “empty handed.”

“A family member indicated that he was out west. We had heard previously that he may be in Arizona,” Heffernan said. “As with any felony warrant, (Martinez-Flores) will be entered into a nationwide database. He will be listed as a wanted individual.”

Martinez-Flores has been wanted before. Around the same time he allegedly made off with the Belleville Cultural Enrichment Organization’s money, he also hosted VIP tents during the Sparta 175 celebration at the World Shooting Complex in Randolph County. He currently faces a theft of services charge there after securing three days worth of catering services he never paid for from The Butcher’s Block, located at 1505 N. Market St. in Sparta.

Martinez-Flores turned himself into authorities in Randolph County after he was charged in February, paid his bond and was released. He was due in court on that charge in Randolph County Court on June 24.

“His attorney appeared on his behalf and requested a continuance over my objection,” Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker said Friday. The judge granted the continuance, and Martinez-Flores is next due in court there on Sept. 30.

Walker said The Butcher’s Block isn’t the only business claiming they got stiffed last summer during the Sparta 175 festivities.

“At least four other people,” Walker said. “I would be surprised if we can’t get this resolved, that there were more charges or more severe charges.”

Court dates for Martinez-Flores in the St. Clair County cases have not been set.

Contact reporter Tobias Wall at twall@bnd.com or 618-239-2501. Follow him on Twitter: @Wall_BND.

  Comments