CLEARWATER, FL (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Blues Image and Iron Butterfly guitarist Michael Pinera was put on six months probation for grand theft involving a concert benefit he was hired to book in 2001. Pinera pleaded no contest on May 24th after returning the $50,000 he'd been given for the concert to the Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation.
The guitarist and promoter blamed the foundation for pulling the plug on the concert while he was in the middle of planning. Foundation officials disputed his claims.
"He was supposed to book this concert and hire some big name acts," prosecutor Aaron Slavin told the St. Petersburg Times. "Our investigators spoke to the [acts'] agents and nobody had any idea. They had never been contacted."
The Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation Inc. helps at-risk, inner-city youth improve their self-esteem, character, work ethic and academic performance. The money given to Pinera would otherwise have gone directly into programs to help kids.
Pinera had known the foundation's founder for years and had spoken with him on many occasions about hosting a benefit concert. The foundation hired Pinera in late 2001.
Pinera is best known for his work with the band Blues Image, who scored a #1 hit in 1968 with "Ride, Captain, Ride." He later joined the band Iron Butterfly, best known for their epic hit "In-a-Gadd-Da-Vida." He also played with Alice Cooper in the 1970s. He has since formed the Classic Rock All-Stars, which consists of former members of bands such as Sugarloaf, Rare Earth, and Cannibal and the Head-Hunters.
When the State Attorney's Office began investigating Pinera in 2002, he told officials that he had given advance deposits to actor Dan Aykroyd of the Blues Brothers and Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals. Agents for both said they were never contacted about the benefit. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers