Promoter/Guitarist Gets Probation

Former Blues Image guitarist Michael Pinera has been put on six months probation for grand theft involving a concert benefit he was hired to book in 2001. Pinera pleaded no contest May 24th after returning $50,000 to the Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation.

The guitarist was given the $50k by the foundation to book a concert for it, but the event never came to fruition. Pinera claims the organization pulled the plug on him while he was still planning it, but the foundation disputes the claim.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Tampa, Fla.-based musician has known the founder of the organization for years and they had talked of a benefit concert.

“He was supposed to book this concert and hire some big-name acts,” prosecutor Aaron Slavin told the paper. “Our investigators spoke to the (acts’) agents and nobody had any idea. They had never been contacted.”

Pinera attorney Michelle Azar said the case should never have been a criminal matter.

“It should have been [handled in civil court],” Azar told the Times. “He felt he tried very hard and nothing came of it and he ended up in the jaws of the criminal justice system.”

The guitarist told investigators from the State Attorney’s Office in 2002 that he had secured Dan Aykroyd and Felix Cavaliere, but agents for both acts said they were never contacted. The same held true for park officials who were in charge of the venue where the concert was supposed to take place: An affidavit stated Pinera never contacted them.

Circuit Judge Dee Anna Farnell allowed Pinera to plead no contest over the objections of prosecutors, who wanted him to plead guilty, the Times said.

Blues Image is best known for its 1968 hit, “Ride Captain Ride.” Pinera later joined Iron Butterfly and has toured with Alice Cooper.