Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Wynn kidnappers fight convictions

Defense lawyers plan to fight a federal appeals court opinion upholding the convictions of two men in the 1993 kidnapping of Kevyn Wynn.

Wynn, the then 26-year-old daughter of Mirage Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn, was snatched at gunpoint from her Spanish Trail home and later released unharmed after her father paid a $1.45 million ransom.

"The case isn't finished yet," said Las Vegas attorney Mitchell Posin, who represents Ray Cuddy, who orchestrated the kidnapping plot. "We'll pursue it further."

Attorney Dan Albregts, who represents defendant Jacob Sherwood, added: "We're going to continue fighting this thing. I can't imagine stopping here because there are other appellate avenues to exhaust."

Posin and Albregts said they expect to ask the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to reconsider a three-judge panel's 25-page opinion made public Thursday, nearly a year after arguments were heard.

If that fails, their final option is to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, they said.

"When it takes them that long to write an opinion, and the opinion is that extensive, there are obviously some issues that were looked at closely," Albregts said. "It makes me think there might be something there to take further."

Federal prosecutors, however, said they were pleased with the appeals panel's ruling.

"We were always confident that the convictions would be upheld," said U.S. Attorney Kathryn Landreth. "We were never concerned about the outcome."

Though affirming the 1994 convictions, the 9th Circuit panel ordered the case back to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Lloyd George for resentencing.

The panel said George needed to clarify how he tacked on additional prison time for Cuddy and Sherwood under federal sentencing guidelines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom O'Connell, who prosecuted the case, suggested Thursday it was possible the appeals panel ruling could result in a "minor reduction" in the stiff prison terms George gave the two defendants.

Cuddy, 49 at the time of the July 26, 1993, kidnapping, was sentenced to 24 years and seven months in prison, the maximum George could have handed out.

Sherwood, then a 21-year-old ex-gang member from Sacramento, got 19 years.

A third accomplice, 19-year-old Anthony Watkins, received a lighter sentence after he pleaded guilty and testified as a government witness at the trial of Cuddy and Sherwood.

The case, one of the most widely publicized in Las Vegas history, attracted national attention.

At the sentencings, George scolded Cuddy and Sherwood for their "vile" and "debasing" conduct during the abduction.

Posin and Albregts said they were disappointed that the three-judge panel affirmed the convictions.

"It's surprising based on the questions they were asking at oral argument," Posin said. "Two of them appeared to be leaning the other way."

Albregts added: "I thought we had a lot of interesting issues."