The head of the state gambling commission is withdrawing from next week’s crucial review of the land deal for a $1.3 billion casino proposed for Everett, after disclosing that he is a longtime friend and former business partner of one of the owners of the proposed casino site.
Stephen Crosby, who has led the five-member commission since it was created in 2012, said that he has known Paul Lohnes, co-owner of the 29-acre Everett site, since the two were in the National Guard in the 1970s, and that they were business partners from 1983 to 1990 at a company that made cable television guides.
If Wynn Resorts wins the right to develop the former Monsanto chemical site into a casino, the sale of the land would potentially be worth millions of dollars to Lohnes.
Crosby, who disclosed that he knew about Lohnes’s ownership of the land for roughly a year before revealing their relationship in August, said he is confident that he could be unbiased in deciding whether to approve the land deal between Lohnes and Wynn. But Crosby said he withdrew to preserve public trust in the casino selection process, especially after gambling commission investigators raised concerns that Lohnes was working with “hidden ownership.”
The Globe reported last month that a federal grand jury and other agencies are investigating whether Charles A. Lightbody, a Revere businessman with a long criminal record, is a secret partner with Lohnes and had boasted that he could make up to $18 million from selling the land to Wynn.
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