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October 18, 2019

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Boston says Wynn Resorts reps knew of mob ties to land

Steve Wynn

Elise Amendola / AP

In this Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, photo, Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, delivers the keynote address at Colliers International Annual Seminar at the Boston Convention Center in Boston. Wynn delivered the keynote speech Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at a Las Vegas conference for printing technology company Electronics for Imaging.

BOSTON — Recently discovered interviews with at least five people suggest Wynn Resorts knew a mob associate with felony convictions would profit from his stake in the waterfront land where the Las Vegas casino company plans to build a resort, the city says in recent court filings.

Boston, which is suing the state Gaming Commission over its decision to award Wynn a gambling license, says the witnesses told commission investigators that Wynn representatives were informed of or discussed Charles Lightbody's ownership stake before signing an option on roughly 30 acres on the Everett waterfront across from Boston.

The city argues that existence of the testimony casts further doubts over the commission's vetting of the Wynn application.

One interview centers on a conversation between Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Stephen Tocco, a former state secretary of economic affairs working as a political consultant for Wynn.

Tocco told gambling investigators he had mentioned to the mayor that a reporter was inquiring about the Everett land. He then reminded DeMaria that Wynn would not move forward with the deal if there was anyone with a criminal background involved. The mayor, in response, asked specifically if the reporter was asking about Lightbody, Tocco testified.

"A fair and reasonable inference to be drawn from Tocco's testimony is that Mayor DeMaria knew that Lightbody was an owner of the former Monsanto Chemical Site and a convicted felon, which he communicated directly to Tocco, a long-term, authorized representative of Wynn," the city argues in the legal brief.

But Tocco said Monday it's clear from his testimony he didn't pass on any mention of Lightbody to Wynn officials after his brief conversation with DeMaria because the name didn't ring any bells.

"I never heard of Lightbody and I certainly never had any discussions with Wynn or anybody else about Lightbody," he said. "I didn't pursue it because I didn't know who the names were, anyway. I wasn't involved in the land stuff."

Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver maintains the company first learned about Lightbody's ties to the property from the gaming commission investigation. The commission and DeMaria didn't comment Monday.

The interviews were included in roughly 1,000 pages of materials Boston filed late last week as the city argued for casting a wider net for gathering evidence in the civil lawsuit.

A state judge struck the filings from the court record Thursday because they had been submitted just hours before a hearing in the case. The city subsequently released the materials to the Associated Press.

Boston alleges commission investigators "consciously omitted" mention of interviewing Tocco and DeMaria in their extensive background check into the key players in the $1.7 billion resort casino project. The testimony also was not included in the administrative record the commission has compiled for the court in Boston's civil lawsuit, the city says.

DeMaria and Tocco's testimony was a focus of legal filings this month in the criminal case against Lightbody and two other former owners of the Everett land, Dustin DeNunzio and Anthony Gattineri.

The three face federal wire fraud charges. They're accused of trying to conceal the fact Lightbody would profit from the multimillion-dollar land deal in violation of the state's casino law, which prohibits criminals from profiting from gambling facilities.

Boston and two other area cities, Revere and Somerville, have sued the gaming commission following last year's decision to award Wynn a casino license over rival Mohegan Sun. The cities, in separate lawsuits, accuse the commission and Wynn of misconduct that severely compromised the competition for the state's most lucrative regional casino license.

Among Boston's numerous allegations is that the commission attempted to "salvage" Wynn's qualification in the license competition by "mischaracterizing" evidence its investigators uncovered regarding Wynn's knowledge of Lightbody's role.

In a related development, state Attorney General Maura Healey on Monday issued a letter to state transportation officials in which she urged them to delay any approvals for Wynn's project until an independent analysis on the casino's impacts to the notoriously traffic-clogged region could be done.

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