Three men have been indicted for fraud in connection with casino operator Wynn Resorts’ Boston casino plans. On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Dustin DeNunzio, Anthony Gattineri and Charles Lighbody (pictured far right) on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aiding and abetting. The three stand accused of conspiring to obscure Lightbody’s ownership of the property on which Wynn’s casino is to be built, apparently out of fear that Lightbody’s criminal history would queer the deal.
Lightbody, a convicted felon with reputed ties to gangsters, was one of four members of FBT Everett Realty, a trust that paid $8m for the 30-acre waterfront property in 2009. Lightbody and his two co-accused originally planned to sell the Everett property to Wynn for $75m but eventually settled for $35m. Paul Lohnes, the fourth member of the trust and a friend of Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) chairman Stephen Crosby, was not indicted.
The US Attorney for Massachusetts believes Gattineri and DeNunzio fraudulently altered land ownership documents between December 2012 and July 2013. In addition to removing Lightbody’s name from some files, they backdated new documents to appear that Lighbody had sold out long before Wynn came to town. Prosecutors have a recorded conversation from the day after Wynn agreed to purchase the land, in which Lightbody boasts to a friend that “we signed the deal yesterday.”
In June of this year, Gattineri joined DeNunzio and Lohnes in signing statements attesting to the fact that the property had no secret owners. In September, Wynn beat out rival bidder Mohegan Sun for the lone Boston-area casino license up for grabs. The MGC has concluded that both itself and Wynn had been victims of the trio’s deception and there would be no rethink of its decision to award Wynn the license.
Mohegan Sun isn’t being as charitable, suggesting the indictments had “darkened a cloud’ that’s always seemed to hang over the deal. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who’s had his share of run-ins with Wynn chairman Steve Wynn (pictured above left), said the land deal carried the “taint of corruption.” Expect the folks looking to repeal Massachusetts’ casino legislation at the ballot box to use the indictments as a stick to beat the pro-casino side before November’s vote.
Lightbody appeared in court on Thursday but did not enter a plea. Also facing charges of assault at a casino rally in Revere last October, Lightbody is being held until his next hearing on Tuesday (7). DeNunzio and Gattineri were released after each man pled not guilty. The trio also face state charges for misleading the MGC and evidence tampering. If convicted, the men are potentially facing a couple decades in the slammer and six-figure fines.
WYNN BOSTON TO RELY ON CHINESE PLAYERS
Assuming Wynn’s Boston casino does get to open its doors at some point in the future, a good chunk of its revenue will come via plane from Asia. Speaking to GGRAsia at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Wynn celebrated the fact that both Cathay Pacific and Hainan Airlines had recently announced plans to offer non-stop service from China to Boston. Wynn said he’d never enjoyed such favorable travel options at any of his US casinos.
Wynn believes the MGM brand is “well established” in China and if “there’s a Wynn in Boston, there will be Asians.” Wynn also expects a large contingent of visitors from Latin America, and this willingness to look for customers beyond US borders helped sell Wynn’s bid when the MGC compared it with Mohegan Sun’s vision.
WYNN BUYING THE GAMBLER’S ESTATE?
On Wednesday, Variety reported that Steve was sniffing around a $50m, 11-bedroom, 17-bathroom Los Angeles property that was built by none other than Kenny Rogers. The property, known as ‘Liongate’ for the two not-the-least-bit-gaudy marble lions Kenny plunked down on either side of the property’s gateposts, was built in the late-70s, right around the time Kenny released The Gambler, his smash hit about gamblin’ and drinkin’. The house has since changed hands a half-dozen times and went on the market for $65m in March. Steve’s kids and his ex-wife Elaine live in the L.A. area.