In Oct. 2020, Chris Osuna reached out to Legends Hospitality, which runs concessions at Chula Vista’s amphitheater.
Osuna was dismayed. A cousin was using his dead brother’s name and likeness to operate a nonprofit. The nonprofit provided supposed volunteers to work concession stands at the amphitheater. Osuna informed Legends that his cousin paid the presumed volunteers under the table and, he believed, reaped profits. Her group had essentially become a catering service.
“It is my fear that with the help of your organization, Lilianna [Osuna] and her accomplices are personally enriching themselves using my brother’s name, causing further pain and suffering to my family,” Osuna wrote in an email.
A Legends representative responded less than an hour later.
“I will investigate and ensure they were properly certified to volunteer at one of our venues,” Rose Magallanes wrote.
Osuna never heard from them again, he said.
Lov4Jaro, Lilliana Osuna’s group, continued to provide presumed volunteers to Legends and North Island Credit Union Amphitheater in Chula Vista for the next three years.
It’s unclear what actions Legends took, if any.
Legends – which is part of a group called Midway Rising the city chose to redevelop its land around Sports Arena – did not comment for this story.
Last week, Voice of San Diego revealed that Lov4Jaro and another group called Humble Hands had, in fact, been paying supposed volunteers below minimum wage and under the table to work at the amphitheater.
Lilianna Osuna previously told Voice that some volunteers receive a “donation” for working at the amphitheater, but not all volunteers are compensated. She also donates to some people who don’t work at the amphitheater, she said.
One other group – that wasn’t a nonprofit at all – also paid cash wages at Petco Park and Snapdragon Stadium, until Voice revealed it in August. Between the three groups, they have provided staffing at some of San Diego’s largest venues: Petco, Snapdragon, the amphitheater, Sports Arena and the former Qualcomm Stadium.
Stadiums across the country use volunteer groups to staff many of their concession stands. In exchange for providing volunteers to work a stand, the charity gets to keep roughly 10 percent of the stand’s proceeds – at least in theory. Voice’s reporting has revealed a shadow work force, provided by supposed charities, is pervasive in venues throughout San Diego County.
Concessions business insiders say this volunteer system can be easily abused.
Concessionaires across the country “are profiting to tune of billions of dollars a year by utilizing so-called volunteers instead of hiring employees and paying at least minimum wage,” Jordan Kobritz, a minor league baseball team owner and sports management professor, previously told Voice. “They milk the system.”
During a concert in October, the vast majority of stands within Chula Vista’s amphitheater appeared to be staffed by volunteers, who wear a different uniform than paid employees.
Legends has declined to say how many volunteer groups it utilizes at the amphitheater.
The amphitheater is owned by Live Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, under a parent company called Live Nation Entertainment.
Osuna, in his email, wanted to know who is responsible for nonprofit compliance.
“Is there someone within your organization that vets these organizations and follows up with their compliance?” Osuna asked. “If there is no standard at your company for nonprofit compliance, the least I ask is that my brother’s name, image, and likeness not be used for unethical purposes during your events.”
Lilianna Osuna’s group is called Lov4Jaro. “Jaro” stands for Jorge Alberto Rocha Osuna. Jorge, Chris Osuna’s brother, was murdered in a road rage incident in National City in 2011.
“It’s incredible how nobody cares,” Osuna told Voice. “Back when we were trying to be vocal, it was like no one wanted to listen to us.”
What Osuna and his family viewed as the misuse of his brother’s name actually led them to start their own nonprofit. They now run the JARO Project, which helps under-served youth get involved in sports. The group runs surf camps throughout the year. It does not provide volunteers at venues to get donations, Osuna said.
A Legends spokeswoman previously declined to say, specifically, whether nonprofit groups at the amphitheater are allowed to compensate their volunteers.
“Legends does not condone participating nonprofit groups taking any actions that are contrary to the purpose and intent of the program or to the applicable laws,” she previously wrote.
Osuna was clear in his 2020 email that Lov4Jaro was acting outside the intent of the amphitheater’s nonprofit program.
“[Lilianna] has absolutely no community involvement and only uses your company, Legends Hospitality, as a means of enriching herself,” he wrote.