What Was DeSalvio’s $40M million side deal all about?

By Josh Resnek

The former head of Encore Boston Harbor had barely been on the job a few months when he made the decision to meet one-on-one with Anthony Gattineri in June 2014. Next week, a deposition in the case of Gattineri v Wynn will play out in a small office in Wellesley, MA when DeSalvio is deposed as part of a federal lawsuit.

Gattineri was a minority owner who felt shunned by his other partners at FBT Everett Realty over the discount Wynn was paying on the land in Everett. This scenario played out over 2013 when ML Strategies and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission negotiated a backdoor deal where Wynn would pay a

discounted price on the Everett land in order to avoid the perception that a bad-guy (someone with a criminal past) would be involved in the sale of the land. The sale price of the land dropped from $75 million to $35 million. FBT partners Dustin DeNunzio and Paul Lohnes jumped at the opportunity after both were implicated in jailhouse tapes of hiding a guy with a criminal record. Gattineri, who remained on the outside, had no idea what was going on with the discount. Now, in his new lawsuit, he is aiming to find out.

Gattineri sued Wynn in 2018 over an alleged side deal that occurred when Bob DeSalvio, who flew out to San Diego, to meet with an unhappy Gattineri who was withholding his support for the Wynn land deal. Gattineri had already put up resistance to sign on the deal after meeting with ML Strategies’ Bill Weld, our favorite ex-governor, and Steve Tocco, the head of ML Strategies. The two were rebuffed after Weld threatened to come down on Gattineri and punish him in the media.

n one voice message Weld left for Gattineri’s attorney in April 2014, Weld allegedly said: “I hear that the city of Everett is looking at a taking [Eminent Domain] of $15 million, that’s one-five million. And I also understand from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that Andrea Estes has served a FOIA request on them regarding the certification.” Gattineri rebuffed Weld and then, out of nowhere, DeSalvio decided that a one-on-one meeting would be the best way to find out why Gattineri would not agree. Suddenly, after that meeting, Gattineri signed and the deal between Wynn and FBT Everett was cemented.

What will DeSalvio say in his deposition and what will Weld say the following week when he is deposed? It is an all-star lineup that Gattineri has assembled but our sources say that DeSalvio may have a way out. Wynn is not denying that DeSalvio met with Gattineri, something that one would think the Massachusetts Gaming Commission might want to know. However, Wynn’s attorneys at Mintz Levin are thinking that DeSalvio may not have had the authority to make any commitment to Gattineri.

DeSalvio was let go from Wynn later last year and has since landed

at another casino in the Pocono Mountains. We are confident that his deposition next Tuesday will involved a tough recollection of the awkward beginnings of the Wynn Resorts casino in Everett. After him, there is word that Wynn’s Jacqui Krum and ML Strategies Bill Weld depositions will take place. Weld has to find time to break away from his busy presidential campaign schedule.

Gattineri’s deposition is scheduled for later in February. DeSalvio had originally been scheduled for late December but was put off after he decided that he needed his own lawyer rather than a Wynn stand-in. DeSalvio is being represented by Paul D. Popeo who works at Choate Hall & Stuart LLP. Popeo is the son of Mintz Levin’s Robert Popeo, Wynn’s attorneys.

Leave a Reply