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The Casino Land Deal

Gattineri’s Lawyer:

“We Will Do Whatever Must Be Done to Get Justice”

By Josh Resnek

The Wynn Resorts casino story has taken yet another odd twist with a lawsuit filed in Federal Court last week asserting that Anthony Gattineri is owed $19 million for his share of the land conveyed to Wynn Resorts.

He claims he is owed this money and that the deal was made with a handshake!
Gattineri, one of the owners of FBT Realty, alleges that Robert DeSalvio, a senior executive at Wynn running the Everett Encore project, offered him $18.7 on a handshake if he’d sign paperwork that paved the way for the highly contested land sale to Wynn for $35 million instead of the negotiated price of $75 million.
The negotiations for the land the casino is being built upon are epic – the stuff of a novel – with a gangster, and a former business partner of the Gaming Commission chair all involved in the land deal.
“This law suit is not designed to interfere with the building of the casino,” said Attorney Stephen Gordon, who is representing Gattineri.
“A handshake is an enforceable contract. It is the equivalent of a legally binding agreement. I will do everything that is necessary for my client. Everything,” he said.
Gordon told the Leader Herald he had already been visited at his office by two senior Mintz Leven lawyers. Mintz Levin represents Wynn Resorts and Encore.
“They told me this is a case that cannot be settled by the parties,” added Gordon.
He said the Mintz lawyers told him “we will vehemently oppose the lawsuit.”
The lawsuit will be tried in Federal District Court in Boston before a jury.
“Mr. Gattineri asked Mr. DeSalvio to put Wynn’s offer in writing,” according to the court filing. “Mr. DeSalvio declined saying that Wynn, as a casino operator, is ‘more regulated than the nuclear power industry.’ Mr. DeSalvio, however, told Mr. Gattineri not to worry, that Wynn had many ways in which it could make Mr. Gattineri whole through other projects and developments.

Mr. Gattineri accepted the offer made by Mr. DeSalvio on behalf of Wynn to make him whole and Mr. Gattineri and Mr. DeSalvio shook hands on the agreement.”

Gattineri is now asking for $56 million plus attorneys fees and interest.
The Gaming Commission spokesperson Elaine Driscoll, said it is aware of the lawsuit but had no further comment, according to published reports.
The Gaming Commission is right now apparently concluding its investigation in order to decide whether Wynn Resorts should be allowed to retain its casino license following the sexual harassment charges lodged against Stephen Wynn who has since resigned and sold all his stock in the company.
Encore faces the “suitability” challenge.
If Encore is judged “suitable” by the Gaming Commission, their troubles are largely over.
However it is anyone’s guess what exactly the Gaming Commission will do.
Making it more difficult and complicated for the Gaming Commission are all these subsequent law suits.
Another sexual harassment suit was filed against Wynn Resorts and a former Encore employee in Everett last week in Superior Court.
Yet another suit by the Mohegan Sun ownership claiming the land sale to Wynn Resorts was fraudulent, was allowed to move forward last week.
That suit will be tried in Superior Court.

The Gattineri claim harkens back to 2012, when FBT agreed to sell the Everett land to Wynn for $75 million if the developer won a casino license from the Gaming Commission.

The transaction was later thrown into doubt when Charles Lightbody was caught on tape by law enforcement boasting that he had a hidden stake in the deal and was about to cash in.

Lightbody’s F-bomb-laced conversations with prison buddy Darin Bufalino were played repeatedly during a federal trial that ended in April 2016 with Gattineri, Lightbody, and Robert DeNunzio being cleared of charges they tried to conceal Lightbody’s involvement with FBT.

The verdict raised questions about an earlier decision by the Gaming Commission and Wynn Resorts to deal with the Lightbody cloud hanging over the real estate deal by lowering the price to $35 million, eliminating the so-called “casino premium” on the deal. Gattineri’s lawsuit said he opposed the lower sale price, but he was outvoted by the majority partners.

But Gattineri claims he refused to go along with a second demand of the Gaming Commission – that each FBT owner had to certify under oath that they were the sole owners of the property. Gattineri said he refused to sign, which led to the meeting between DeSalvio and Gattineri in San Diego where the two shook on a deal that would pay Gattineri $18.7 million — Gattineri’s share of the $40 million difference in sale price.

It’s unclear from Gattineri’s complaint whether he has any evidence backing up his claims, but the court filing does include some quotes from unspecified documents suggesting that DeSalvio was told to do “whatever it takes” to solve what Wynn called “The Gattineri problem.”

“I know how difficult it is to enforce a legally binding verbal agreement. It will be difficult to prove Mr. Gattineri’s claims,” said Gordon. “We are ready to go to court. We believe in the jury system,” he added.

Portions of a “Commonwealth” piece are included in this report.

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