Former co-owner of Everett, Mass., land sues casinoBy JORDAN GRAHAM
June 14. 2018 12:40AM
A former minority owner of the land under the massive Encore Boston Harbor is suing Wynn Resorts, claiming the casino company reneged on a deal that would have secretly paid nearly $20 million more than previously disclosed, and without the Gaming Commission’s knowledge.
The land in Everett, Mass., 33 acres on the Mystic River, sold for $35 million in 2014. The sale was embroiled in controversy over the co-ownership of Charles Lightbody, a convicted felon.
According to the complaint, Lightbody’s involvement prompted the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to require the land be sold at market value, so Lightbody could not inordinately profit from the state’s casino industry.
But, according to the complaint, Lightbody’s partner Anthony Gattineri rejected the new offer, which slashed the price from $75 million to $35 million. When the Gaming Commission asked the landowners to certify that Lightbody had been bought out of the ownership group, Gattineri refused to sign, saying the land was worth more than $35 million, even to a non-casino buyer.
“His refusal caused a potentially fatal problem for Wynn’s licensing prospects,” the complaint says.
In June 2014, months before Wynn Resorts would eventually be awarded the casino license, Gattineri met with Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn’s Massachusetts casino, and demanded his share of the original offer, according to the complaint.
“Robert DeSalvio then made Anthony Gattineri the following offer: if Anthony Gattineri signed the required Certificate and Wynn obtained the casino license for a casino ...Wynn would “make Anthony Gattineri whole” by providing him with his percentage of the purchase price reduction (which is $18,676,000),” the complaint says.
In the complaint, Gattineri says Wynn and DeSalvio have refused to honor their agreement, despite meetings between Gattineri and company executives.
“Mr. DeSalvio did not deny that Wynn owed Mr. Gattineri the money to make him whole,” the complaint says.
In a statement, an Encore Boston Harbor spokesman denied the allegations, saying Gattineri is seeking a payday.
“This is an attempt to now extract an additional multi-million-dollar payment from our company beyond what was negotiated and accepted by Mr. Gattineri and his partners in the Everett land transaction,” Greg John, the casino spokesman, said. “Mr. Gattineri’s claim that a publicly-traded company in a highly-regulated industry would execute a $20 million transaction on a handshake deal, without any documentation or paperwork, is implausible and will be vigorously defended by Wynn.”
A spokeswoman for the Gaming Commission said the Commission is aware of the lawsuit, but declined to comment further.