Fighting Wynn Over Building Casinos Never Wins

This is not an anti-media or pro-casino rant. Some of us love to gamble, and some people would suggest that your money would be put to better use supporting one of their causes, such as taking in stray animals or getting involved in the political process by donating to your favorite candidate. “To each their own”, But this is still relevant to see the thickness of the air of distrust the casino industry has to live with.

The Massachusetts State Gaming Commission recently awarded a gaming license to build a casino in Everett, Massachusetts to Steve Wynn. This was being met significant opposition from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The mix of politics, money, and morality made for great theater in the local media circle of Boston. Walsh was recently elected mayor of Boston, and this would be his first test of political will. In the end, he lost to Wynn.

IMG_991332-46-1Casinos require a plot of land to be constructed on, and the particular plot in question was owned by a number of investors including Anthony Gattineri, Dustin DeNunzio and Charles Lightbody. Lightbody was known to have personal connections with organized crime, which brought significant scrutiny to the licensing process involving Wynn. There was a thorough investigation done of the owners of the property and Wynn by the Gaming Commission prior to the awarding of the casino license. The results were that nothing was found that would prevent Wynn from beginning construction on the designated parcel of land.

On October 2nd, Lightbody, Gattineri, and DeNunzio were all indicted by a federal grand jury on the charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. Lightbody was singled out as the focus of the conspiracy because of his previously found connections and the fact that he was a convicted felon. State gaming law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony to profit from profiting from a casino development. One obvious reason for this restriction is to limit any potential influence the Mafia may have over state gaming operations.

So what does the arrest of three land development investors have to do with the awarding of the casino license and specifically, Steve Wynn? The media has made the connection for you. However, the facts make this more about the alleged criminal acts against the state and Wynn than the casino licensing award process. A look at the facts is in order.

Fact: Steve Wynn was the victim, not a willing accomplice or conspirator.

According to the Boston Globe, the federal indictment stated that “three owners of the land in Everett where Steve Wynn plans to build a $1.6 billion casino, alleging they defrauded Wynn by hiding the fact that convicted felon and known Mafia associate Charles Lightbody was one of the owners.” (see article reference) If the grand jury decided Wynn was the victim, how is he the villain? Casting a shadow on the reputation of Wynn does make for a good mystery and conspiracy story, but denies the facts.

Fact: The Massachusetts State Gaming Commission was not involved and unaware of any improprieties.

“No public officials were indicted by either grand jury, nor was a fourth land owner, Paul Lohnes, a former business partner of Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby.” This, according to the Globe, nixes any connection between the commission and the trio of indictments. Both federal and state grand juries were impaneled and found nothing to pursue an indictment.

Fact: The holding company of the land, FBT Everett Realty, was under investigation by the Commission for more than a year because the documentation provided by FBT was contradictory.

The Commission also concluded that any criminal actions, including the removal of Lightbody’s name from land ownership records, were concealed in the fraudulent documentation and unknown to Wynn. Some question why Wynn’s own investigators did not uncover the fraud. Yet it took state investigators more than a year to reveal the truth. If detection was so simple, why did the state’s investigators take so long? We will probably never know. Wynn was found innocent by the grand jury.

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