Gerami, whose family settled in Southern California after fleeing Iran's Islamic Revolution, became a teenage record-spinner at the nightclub T.I.M.E. As DJ Reza, he was soon organizing raves across the Los Angeles area, including the Halloween-themed Monster Massive and a New Year's Eve show called Encore.

As they followed separate paths into large arenas, Rotella and Gerami stopped using the word "rave" and billed their productions as "electronic music festivals."

"There's a big difference between an illegal and unsafe event and what we're doing," Gerami told The Times in 2000.

The Rotella and Gerami productions brought safety requirements that were missing from the underground scene. Their Coliseum contracts, for example, held the promoters responsible for the protection of rave attendees against injury.

Now-routine safety measures include security patrols, standby ambulances and medical stations. More recently, Rotella's concerts have offered free water to attendees. Ecstasy overdose victims often crave water because the drug affects the part of the brain that regulates drinking behavior and body temperature. Insomniac's website warns ticket buyers that they will be prosecuted if they use drugs at the concert.

Rotella and Gerami declined to be interviewed for this story. In a statement, Rotella's firm said it does everything it can to protect concertgoers, but fans also must be responsible for their own actions: "Despite the fact that the overwhelming number of our festival's hundreds of thousands of attendees have a positive experience, a small number of people make the personal decision to break the law as well as the policies of our events."

Gerami said in an email that his concerts have always been "safe, secure and fun," and that no deaths have occurred at or because of a Go Ventures production.

The coroners' reports show that three people collapsed at raves produced or co-produced by Gerami's firm due to overdoses and died later at a hospital. A fourth person died from multiple drug toxicity after returning home from a rave produced by Gerami and Rotella. According to a coroner's report, friends said he had taken Ecstasy at the concert. The report also said he had heroin and cocaine in his system.

Some parents and concertgoers felt a greater sense of ease that the events were taking place in well-known venues. "It did make me more comfortable," said John Johnson, whose son, Joshua, attended Insomniac's Nocturnal Wonderland in San Bernardino in 2006.

Joshua, 18, overdosed on Ecstasy at the rave and later died. There was no news coverage or public notice taken of his death. "That made me feel very angry," his father said, "and also a little hopeless about this situation, in terms of children and drug use and concerts."

At the time, Rotella and Gerami were expanding their productions and the Coliseum's governing commission was near the end of its failed pursuit of an NFL franchise. To pay the bills, the panel was increasingly turning to raves.

In 2007, Rotella brought the Electric Daisy Carnival to the historic stadium, selling 29,000 tickets, according to the commission. Attendance roughly doubled in each of the next two years, then reached 185,000 during a two-day stand in 2010. Gerami's 2009 Monster Massive had 55,000 people jamming the turnstiles.

From 2006 to 2009, ticket sales tripled to more than 52,000 at a combined Insomniac-Go Ventures rave at the Sports Arena, Together as One.

A study prepared for Rotella's company said the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival pumped $42 million into the Los Angeles economy. Rotella and Gerami continued to maintain that the raves were safe.

After Sasha Rodriguez died in 2010, Rotella said in a television interview that her overdose was an isolated incident: "Last year was the only very tragic situation … the first. And we plan on it being our last."

It was neither the first nor the last.

Before Sasha overdosed, four people had died after attending Coliseum and Sports Arena raves, and three died elsewhere, the coroners' reports show. Six more deaths occurred during or shortly after subsequent raves in Nevada, Texas and Michigan. Rotella and Gerami put on all of the productions, together or separately.

In Sasha's case, an insurance carrier for Rotella's company paid her family $175,000 to settle a negligence lawsuit. The Insomniac insurance policy also covered the Coliseum's liability. An insurer for the former Coliseum manager charged with taking bribes from Rotella paid the family a settlement of $15,000 because of his role in the 2010 rave.


Death by Ecstasy — a drug that enhances the effect of the beat-heavy music and pulsing lights of raves — can be torturous.