At the time, the commission was considering Wynn’s application for one of three coveted casino licenses offered by the state. When commission investigators asked FTB about the alleged Charles Lightbody interest, the owner group said it previously had a stake in the property but sold it.
The commission did not resolve the ownership issue, but ruled that FBT should not be allowed to collect the multi-million dollar mark-up price allowed for the proposed casino site and warned Wynn that its license application was at risk unless the issue is addressed. , according to the CJS.
Instead of investigating FBT’s ownership, the commission “favourably considered the application subject to reducing the amount FBT owners would receive for the property, thereby giving a private party, Wynn, a multi-million windfall. dollars at the expense of another private party, FBT,” Judge Scott Kafker wrote on behalf of the court in a 38-page decision.
Wynn’s casino license was approved after reducing the purchase price of the 35 acres on the Mystic River to $35 million, the estimated value of the land if the buyer did not build a casino.
On Monday, the SJC overturned a Superior Court judge’s dismissal of FBT’s claim that the steep price drop constituted an unfair “regulatory grab” by the commission.
“Whether the commission ordered such a forcible transfer of ownership, or simply accepted it as a remedy to its concerns about undisclosed criminal ownership interests in FBT, cannot be decided without further discovery,” a writes the court, allowing the lawsuit to proceed. regulatory claim.
The court found there were disputed facts about “exactly what the commission expected or required Wynn to do, and what Wynn did on his own initiative.”
While allowing the lawsuit to proceed on that claim, the SJC upheld the lower court’s decision to dismiss a second claim by FBT alleging that the Gaming Commission intentionally interfered with its contract for the sale of the land. As a public employer, the commission is immune from prosecution for intentional torts, the court found.
Tom Mills, a spokesperson for the Gambling Commission, said: “We are pleased that the SJC has upheld the rejection of intentional interference with a contractual claim and will deal with the remaining claim through appropriate legal proceedings.”
FBT’s attorneys declined to comment on the SJC decision. Wynn’s attorneys did not respond to inquiries.
After FBT sued the Gaming Commission in 2017 to recover the $40 million lost, the commission filed a lawsuit against Wynn, arguing that Wynn would be liable if damages were awarded.
FBT purchased the heavily contaminated Everett land for $8 million in 2009, two years before casino gambling was legalized in Massachusetts. Three years later, Wynn agreed to pay the real estate company $75 million for the land once it was granted a license to build a casino there, with $100,000 a month to be paid until then.
During the licensing process, investigators learned that corrections officers recorded Lightbody talking about his interest in the land and an anticipated windfall from its sale during a December 2012 conversation with Darin Bufalino, a reputed gangster serving time in state prison for extortion, court heard. procedure.
On a call, Lightbody was heard saying it was a “good thing…nobody knows who’s involved,” according to court documents.
Bufalino suggested he “double-blind” and Lightbody replied, “Well, that’s what we do.”
FBT directors Dustin DeNunzio, Anthony Gattineri and Paul Lohnes told commission investigators that Lightbody once had a stake, but it was transferred to Gattineri before the option agreement was signed with Wynn.
“FBT alleges – and the commission denies – that the commissioners were angered by what they perceived to be the lack of candor and obstruction by the directors of FBT, and sought to punish them by imposing a financial penalty on FBT,” a writes the SJC in its ruling, adding that the limited evidence presented in the civil suit “reveals evidence in support of FBT’s allegation.”
In October 2014, Lightbody, DeNunzio and Gattineri were indicted on federal charges involving an alleged scheme to hide Lightbody’s financial interests in the land. A jury acquitted the men of all charges following a three-week trial the following year. The defense argued that Lightbody sold its 12% stake in the property to Gattineri for a $1.7 promissory note before the group reached an agreement with Wynn to sell the land.