The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said Friday it will not issue a gambling license to Steve Wynn until all three owners of the land in Everett where he wants to build a $1.6 billion casino sign sworn statements that no secret owners will profit from the sale.
Two of the three owners have signed the promise but one of them, reported by the Globe to be Anthony Gattineri, has not, a gambling commission lawyer told the panel.
The lawyer, Catherine Blue, told commissioners that Wynn Resorts officials are “working diligently to bring this to resolution” and said she is optimistic they will succeed.
Gattineri’s refusal to sign has raised concerns that a convicted felon with a long rap sheet named Charles A. Lightbody could still be involved in the land deal despite assurances from the landowners that he has pulled out. The gambling commission has said it will not permit a casino that benefits criminals financially.
The commission’s chief investigator, Karen Wells, said Friday that she is still concerned about “the cast of characters” involved in FBT Everett Realty, the holding company for Gattineri and his partners.
Wells, director of the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, said she has referred her findings about the land deal to the district attorney, the attorney general, and the US attorney’s office.
“It is obvious that the [commission investigators have] serious concerns, and we continue to be concerned,” she said.
Commissioner James F. McHugh, who presided over Friday’s meeting, said the panel regards obtaining the sworn statements as “a simple, straightforward matter” to reassure the public that the planned $35 million sale is legitimate.
“Our remedy is for a statement to be signed, and we expect that statement to be signed,” he said. “Obviously, it has to be signed before any license is awarded.”
Gattineri has refused to sign the statement on the advice of his lawyer, Brad Bailey, who has declined to comment.
Federal and state investigators have been working to determine whether anyone other than Gattineri, Paul Lohnes, and Dustin DeNunzio could directly or indirectly profit from the sale of the former industrial land to Wynn. The owners now receive $100,000 a month from Wynn Resorts.
Gambling commission investigators determined that FBT Everett Realty failed to disclose that Lightbody had an interest in the land. Investigators found that one FBT partner, DeNunzio, backdated documents to make it look as though Lightbody left the group before Wynn offered to buy the property in late 2012.
In addition, they found that Lightbody “took affirmative steps to conceal his role to avoid jeopardizing the sale.” Lightbody has served prison time for assault and was convicted in connection with a massive identity theft ring.
After Lightbody’s secret role was discovered by commission investigators last July, Wynn Resorts lowered its proposed purchase price from $75 million to $35 million in hope of making the sale less lucrative. The commission called for Lohnes, DeNunzio, and Gattineri to sign pledges that no other partners are involved.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who has said that he and Lightbody are longtime friends, devised a plan to eliminate the need for Gattineri’s sworn statement.
DeMaria has proposed having the city acquire the FBT parcel and seven other nearby properties as part of an urban renewal program and then resell them to Wynn. Everett’s City Council approved an urban renewal plan Monday by a 10-to-1 vote, the first step toward allowing the city to use eminent domain authority to buy the land for Wynn.
But Council President Michael Marchese, the only no vote, wrote to the gambling commission this week, calling the eminent domain plan an apparent effort “to circumvent the commission rules and regulations” and possibly “allow convicted felons to profit.”
Mayor Daniel Rizzo of Revere, whose city is competing with Everett to host the Boston area’s only casino, also wrote to the gambling commission urging the panel to address questions about the Everett land.
“The commission appears ready to rely on the signatures of individuals who [investigators] found unreliable, in lieu of conducting its own public fact finding to answer important questions that go to the integrity of the introduction of expanded gaming in Massachusetts,” Rizzo wrote.
He asked the commission to order the landowners “to appear in public and actually allow the public to understand in a transparent way what is going on,” said Rizzo, who is advocating for a Mohegan Sun casino in his city.
Commissioners did not debate the land ownership questions at Friday’s meeting.
McHugh said the commission would not address “hypotheticals,” an indirect reference to the urban renewal plan approved by Everett’s City Council.
“We are not . . . going to respond or otherwise deal with in a concrete fashion hypotheticals and plans that may be contingent,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. We’ll deal with concrete issues.”