By Josh Resnek
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced last week that it will be holding closed door hearings to discuss issues surrounding a multi- million lawsuit between it, the MGC, and the original owners of the land, FBT Realty.
Claiming public discussions might have a detrimental effect on the bargaining position of the Commission, the MGC opted for an executive session.
It is believed at least two executive sessions were held last week by the MGC.
What is at risk for the MGC?
It is very likely the MGC will be forced to payout millions of dollars to FBT and that Wynn Resorts will be forced to do the same, to satisfy claims by FBT that the MGC reduced the price of the land from $75 million to $35 million to seal the deal for Wynn Resorts to acquire it.
A source familiar with the lawsuit has estimated that a settlement might pay back FBT partners as much as $20 million of the $40 million reduction.
Wynn struck a deal with the partners of FBT for $75 million when the initial option to purchase was executed in December 2012.
A year later, after MGC accused certain FBT members of altering documents to hide the interest of a convicted felon, a person law enforcement believed was associated with organized crime. The acquisition was put into jeopardy.
Wynn stood to be disqualified from the gaming competition.
In order for the deal to be facilitated, MGC, along with Wynn’s powerhouse consulting / lobbying firm ML Strategies, came up with a creative idea to avoid punishing Wynn.
The solution involved FBT lowering the price of the land so the convicted felon and others at FBT would not receive a “casino premium” for the land.
MGC approved a price reduction of $40 million for Wynn’s purchase of the former Monsanto site.
Now FBT is suing to get back the $40 million that was sliced from their original purchase price.
This litigation casts a powerful light into the Monsanto/casino/FBT/ Wynn/City of Everett participation in the land deal, one which is believed to include Everett’s Mayor Carlo DeMaria allegedly receiving a kickback for his part in getting the land deal done between the parties.
Also, the reduction in price at the end of 2012, marks the moment the US Attorney’ office began its longstanding and continuing wild goose chase to ensnare FBT’s convicted felon partner in a number of crimes not related to the land deal.
This led to the arrest and indictment of the original Monsanto landowner, real estate developer Gary DiCicco.
The FBI wanted information from DiCicco about the convicted felon partner in FBT.
He refused. DeCicco was jailed for 15 months without bail.
At the same time, the FBI conducted an investigation into the casino land conveyance that conveniently left out the mayor’s alleged involvement with a kickback, as well as others connected with the mayor who used political influence and aided in engineering the deal – and this includes but is not limited to a middle-man broker buddy of the mayor’s, the MGC former chair, Steve Crosby, who himself was a business partner in several failed business deals with Paul Lohnes, an FBT principal and friend of former Governor William Weld – who was handling the deal for Mintz Levin.
When DiCicco finally came to trial in Federal Court two years ago, the jury deliberated for ten minutes before delivering an innocent verdict. Shortly thereafter, the government re-indicted DiCicco on fraud charges.
DiCicco has recently filed prosecutorial misconduct charges against the government for lodging the case presently against him which he believes has no merit.
The case the FBI built against DiCicco is believed to have been a subterfuge to protect Lohnes, his former business partner Crosby and the power broker Weld.
FBT partners Dustin DeNunzio, Anthony Gattineri and their convicted felon partner were indicted on federal and state charges for their role in altering documents.
The trio was found not guilty in an April 2016 federal trial.
DeNunzio and the felon later pled to lesser state charges and the case against Gattineri was dropped.
Once the dust cleared on these criminal cases, FBT sued MGC and asked for its $40 million discount to be paid back.
Once sued, MGC then added Wynn to the lawsuit (Yes, MGC is in a lawsuit against Wynn).
The case has dragged on for years with no resolution and there has been no trial date set. Even with this inaction, something recently prompted the MGC to call an executive session among the commissioners to discuss new information brought to its attention, according to sources familiar with the lawsuit.
One source told the Leader Herald that the new information now coming to light was revealed to Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General in charge of gaming, Thomas Caldwell.
Caldwell apparently received new information regarding the investigation into two of FBT partners’ roles in backdating of documents associated with the convicted felon’s ownership in FBT.
The information is also alleged to relate to the possible involvement of ML Strategies’ in backdating documents related to FBT’s convicted felon partner in order to facilitate the land deal for Wynn.
ML Strategies is led by Steve Tocco and also employs former Governor Weld, both instrumental in Wynn’s land victory and subsequent license approval for the Everett casino.
What Tocco and Weld knew about FBT’s disclosure of the convicted felon’s ownership in FBT is believed to be central to the Caldwell discussion and will likely be of interest to both Attorney General Maura Healey and the MGC.
Apparently, there was a meeting at ML Strategies’ office on the morning of July 11, 2013, where specific information was discussed about the convicted felon FBT principal and the documents related to his ownership.
This meeting occurred at the beginning of the MGC’s investigation into the land purchase.
Caldwell is believed to have exchanged this new information with Healey. In fact, he reports to Healey.
Healey has been outspoken about sexual harassment charges lodged against Steve Wynn in Feb. 2019, and allegations that Wynn Resorts enabled his behavior.
Healey has long since been silent on the matter.
But it is no secret that the MGC’s decision to fine Wynn $35 million before awarding the license to the company did not sit well with Healey.