Three of the original owners of the land now destined to be the Wynn Everett casino in Everett, Massachusetts have been indicted by state and federal authorities. They allege that the men defrauded Wynn Resorts and lied to state regulators by hiding the identity of one of their partners. The indictment shouldn’t have an impact on Wynn’s winning bid to build the $1.6 billion resort.
Lightbody Ownership Stake Hidden
According to the federal indictment, three owners of the land went out of their way to cover up the fact that Charles Lightbody, a known Mafia associate and a convicted felon, was one of the partners who owned the land. They were said to have feared (and perhaps rightly so) that the Wynn bid for the only Greater Boston-area casino license could be discounted if Lightbody was known to be a part of the land sale.
The three defendants each face federal fraud charges that could land them with up to 20 years of jail time. State fraud charges could also carry another five years in prison for each man. Lightbody has been held without bail until a hearing next week, while the other two landowners, Anthony Gattineri and Dustin DeNunzio, were released after their first hearings.
“We allege that these defendants misled investigators about the ownership of land proposed for a casino,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley when announcing the indictments.
Accusations Surfaced Last November
Lightbody’s involvement in the land deal has been suspected for some time now. Last November, both state and federal investigations began to look into whether Lightbody was a “secret investor” in the plot of land. At the time, Lightbody and his attorneys said that he was a former owner of the land, but had withdrawn before Wynn had negotiated for the potential purchase of the property. However, the Boston Globe reported that several people said Lightbody had boasted about how much money he could make if the casino were to be built.
A fourth owner, Paul Lohnes, was not indicted by either the federal or state grand jury. No public officials were implicated in the case.
Casino Advocates, Opponents Rally Around Charges
The charges have once again shined the spotlight on the process by which the casino licenses in Massachusetts were awarded, with some saying this shows the process works, while others using the case to garner support for the casino repeal vote.
“These federal and state indictments send a loud message that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will take every measure necessary to preserve the integrity of the gaming industry,” said gaming commission spokesperson Elaine Driscoll.
Meanwhile, John Ribeiro of Repeal the Casino Deal said that this case just shows how organized crime can become intertwined with the casino industry.
“Today, the corrupt casino culture burst into clear focus, and the voters now have an even clearer choice in 33 days,” Ribeiro said.
Lawyers for all three defendants were adamant in professing the innocence of their clients. In particular, Lightbody’s attorney said that the evidence shows that his client gave up his stake in the land before the Wynn sale, and that there was no reason he should be held without bail.
“To suggest that Mr. Lightbody is a flight risk is preposterous,” said attorney Timothy Flaherty. “He’s lived in Revere his entire life and looks forward to presenting a vigorous defense and demonstrating he committed no wrongdoing.”