Charles Lightbody and Two Defendants Are Acquitted in Everett Casino Trial
Charles Lightbody and two other defendants were acquitted in a trial stemming from the Everett casino land deal. Charles Lightbody and other investors in an old Everett industrial plant sold the property along the Mystic River to Wynn Resorts. The land is the site for the coming Wynn Boston Harbor casino and resort, the first legal Boston-area brick-and-mortar casino in history.
Prosecutors charged the defendants with plotting to conceal the fact Charles Lightbody was involved in the land deal. Lightbody had a 12% interest in the land, and prosecutors alleged that the former convict and two other investors — Anthony Gattineri and Dustin DeNunzio — had schemed to make it look like Lightbody had sold his shares in the company.
Details of the Trial
The Boston Globe reported that Lightbody, Gattineri, and DeNunzio celebrated the acquittal alongside their families after the verdict was read.
The three-week trial had included 15 witnesses, hundreds of documents, and multiple hours of tape recordings. The jury in the case deliberated for 6 hours before returning a “Not Guilty” verdict on all counts.
Lightbody’s Payment to Gattineri
The prosecution showed that Lightbody wrote a promissory note to Gattineri for the amount of $1.7 million prior to the $75 million land deal which transferred the property from the Boston-area investment group to Steve Wynn. Investors stood to gain a large profit from the land deal. Wynn Resorts plans a casino which is expected to cost as much as $2 billion, which would make it the most expensive building in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The motive given was fear that Steve Wynn would reject the land deal, if he learned Charles Lightbody was involved. Lightbody has a felony conviction, while rumors have circulated in top publications that he has had organized crime ties. Massachusetts law forbids felons from earning profit from gambling enterprises in the state.
Rival Bid from Mohegan Sun
At the time, Steve Wynn was in the final stages of a bidding showdown against a partnership between Connecticut-based Native American tribe, Mohegan Sun, and the Boston-based Suffolk Downs. Mohegan Sun is a billion-dollar corporation like Wynn Resorts, while Suffolk Downs was thought to have tremendous political sway in Massachusetts — common perception at the time was the owners of Suffolk Downs were the masterminds between the casino initiative in the first place.
With a billion-dollar casino license on the line, it was thought Steve Wynn would draw away from any questionable ties. Eventually, the group had to sell the land to the City of Everett, which then sold the land to Steve Wynn. Armed with a $1.6 billion development plan, Wynn Resorts won the casino license over a $900 million plan put forth by Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs. Suffolk Downs, the venerable 70-year old racetrack in Boston long thought to be in financial trouble, closed its doors the next day.
The Defendant’s Arguments
The defendants argued that the sale from Lightbody to DeNunzio had happened prior to the Wynn casino deal. DeNunzio’s lawyers argued that their client had done nothing wrong, despite backdating the financial books to make it look like Lightbody had sold his shares prior to the Wynn deal. State law does not forbid backdating of financial documents, if it reflects the true date that a deal happened.
The lawyers for Lightbody and DeNunzio also argued that Massachusetts does not have a specific law against someone like Charles Lightbody profiting from a casino deal, which seems to have negated the prosecutors’ arguments in the regard. The anti-felon law appears to apply to operating a casino — not profiting from a land deal involving one.
A spokesman for Wynn Resorts did not comment on the verdict, saying the Las Vegas casino company planned not to comment, regardless of the verdict. A spokesman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission also declined comment.
Legal News Related to Wynn Everett
In related news, a key Massachusetts environmental agency approved the Wynn Boston Harbor’s plan for construction. A nearby mayor had forced a decision on the matter, claiming the Wynn Boston Harbor would cause massive traffic problems, which presented an environmental danger, due to automobile exhausts. Steve Wynn had called a halt to construction on the Wynn Boston Harbor, until a decision was made.
Mohegan Sun has filed a lawsuit citing favoritism in the licensing process which led to Wynn Resorts winning the license for Everett. Mohegan Sun’s gaming license would have involved a casino built in the Boston suburb of Revere.
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