Billionaire Michael DeGroote Too Frail for Missing Millions Mafia Lawsuit

Posted on: June 7, 2017, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2017, 03:32h.

Canadian billionaire Michael DeGroote is “mentally unfit” to participate in a long-running legal battle over a $120 million casino fraud, his lawyers have said.

Michael DeGroote too ill for Dream Casino lawsuit
Michael DeGroote’s failing health and accelerating dementia has made him unfit to represent himself in court, his lawyers say. It may be that the truth of the Dream Casino scandal is never truly understood. (Image: Glen Lawson/National Post)

Filing a motion a to appoint a litigation guardian to represent the 83-year-old businessman and philanthropist in court, lawyers said their client is suffering from chronic pain and dementia and can no longer remember key dates of his life, or name the current US president.

DeGroote launched legal action in 2012, seeking $200 million in damages for fraud and breach of trust from Dream Casino Corp and its majority owners, Canadian-Italian brothers Antonio and Francesco Carbone.

According to court filings, DeGroote lent the company $120 million to extend their casino chain in the Dominican Republic; funds that subsequently disappeared, apparently frittered away on fast cars and luxury living by a shadowy group of figures associated with the company.

Attempted Murder

Then, in 2015, Antonio Carbone was arrested in the Dominican Republic on a charge of attempted murder, following the firebombing of a car belonging to Fernando Baez Guerrero, a Dominican lawyer and manager for Dream Casino Corp. Carbone has been held without trial ever since, while his brother has disappeared, declared fugitive.

But reports by CBC’s Fifth Estate documentary series suggested that the incarcerated brother had been set up. Fifth Estate has called into question the reliability of the witnesses, on whose accounts Carbone was arrested, and hinted at judicial corruption in the case.

It has also produced evidence from the Canadian Border Services Agency proving that Carbone was in Canada at the time of the alleged failed assassination attempt.

The third and final shareholder in Dream Casino Corp, who owns 15 percent of the company, is Andrew Pajak, the man who initially convinced DeGroote to invest. Pajak has been described by a source known to the Globe and Mail, a “former investigator with the Toronto Police Department,” as being “a mob associate of the first degree.”

The Godfather Turns Up

Meanwhile, security video from inside Dream Casino from 2013, shows Vito Rizzuto, the Godfather of the Mafia in Montreal, being shown around the casino by one Sacha Visser, a con-man with a string of aliases and criminal convictions. Shortly afterwards, Rizzuto died unexpectedly from lung cancer.

Visser is known to have met with, and received money from DeGroote. In a secret recording taped by Visser, the conman promises to help the billionaire’s legal battle by obtaining signed affadavits from casino employees fingering the Carbones as the perpetrators of the theft, but only if DeGroote agreed to pay him half a million dollars.  

DeGroote initially objected, saying he would not “buy evidence.” But eventually he began negotiating over the price and eventually made a payment to Visser. Degroote is also heard on tape discussing a plan to murder the Carbones.

Web of Intrigue

This is a web that may never be untangled. Financial records that could have shown what happened to the money are missing.

Did the Mafia muscle in on the Dream Casino operation, or where they in it from the start? Were the Carbones initially part of the fraud, only to be later double-crossed by Pajak, or were they innocent pawns in the Mafia’s grand plan?

Did Francesco Carbone escape with the money or meet a sinister end? And was Visser playing both sides off one another?

All parties that are living and accounted for are blaming one another, and meanwhile, whatever Michael DeGroote knows, or knew, he may now have forgotten.