Mayor Daniel Rizzo of Revere, a supporter of a Mohegan Sun casino planned for his city, has blasted a rival proposal by Wynn Resorts over allegations that two local felons may have hidden ownership in the Everett property where Wynn wants to build.
But though Rizzo rails against “unsuitable persons” — referring to Charles Lightbody and Gary P. DeCicco — possibly making a profit on the land deal, Rizzo has himself accepted thousands of dollars in donations from the two men for his political campaign fund.
Lightbody, a Revere businessman with a four-page criminal record and at least eight convictions, contributed to Rizzo, a former Revere city councilor, as far back as 2000, according to records on file at Revere City Hall.
Rizzo has accepted at least $2,700 in contributions from Lightbody over the past 14 years, the records show.
DeCicco, a developer with a felony record who has been investigated for arson fires, donated $500, the maximum annual amount allowed by law, to Rizzo’s political fund in 2013.
In a statement, Rizzo’s campaign spokesman said the mayor would no longer accept donations from anyone involved with the Everett casino proposal, including Lightbody, a wealthy Revere property owner.
“Mr. Lightbody has been a donor to the mayor’s prior campaigns, and he has made numerous political donations to many candidates across the Commonwealth, but, unlike Everett, he has no interest in any gaming proposals in our city,” spokesman Frank Perullo said. “Since the stunning allegations regarding the secret partnerships and nefarious cast of characters involved in the Everett/Wynn ‘land deal,’ we have not, and will not, accept donations from anyone involved.”
The Globe has reported that Lightbody and DeCicco were part of a group of investors who bought the Everett land in 2009. Their names were removed from official documents by the time Wynn arrived in late 2012 to view the vacant industrial parcel on the Mystic River known as the former Monsanto Chemical site.
State investigators have questioned whether one or both of the men retained a secret stake in the potentially lucrative land deal with Wynn, and the allegations have become a bitter point of contention in the public relations campaign between supporters of the Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts casino proposals.
Rizzo, one of the strongest cheerleaders for the Mohegan Sun plan, attacked the Wynn proposal in a strident letter to state gambling regulators in May, urging the state to further investigate “the many unanswered questions” related to the Wynn real estate deal.
“There is no reason for the public to have any confidence that millions of dollars will not be going to unsuitable persons,” Rizzo wrote.
Public records show that Rizzo’s most recent donation from Lightbody, in the amount of $500, was in June 2013. That was several months before questions over Lightbody’s possible stake in the Everett land were widely publicized, though Lightbody was already well known at the time for an extensive criminal history, including a 2006 indictment as part of a massive identity theft ring that drew significant news coverage. He was convicted.
Rizzo accepted a $300 donation from Lightbody in 2009, a $500 donation in 2010, and another $500 in 2012, according to campaign finance reports. Earlier contributions from Lightbody to Rizzo include $100 in 2000, $500 in 2003, and $300 in 2004.
Lightbody’s name became publicly associated with the Everett land late last year. The state gambling commission released transcripts of conversations between Lightbody and an incarcerated friend, Darin Bufalino, in which Lightbody suggested he had agreed to take his name off official land records on the parcel in Everett.
‘Since the stunning allegations . . . we have not, and will not, accept donations from anyone involved.’
“I’ll take my name off. I have no problem. . . . These casinos, they see my name in there, they ain’t gonna like it,” Lightbody told Bufalino, according to the transcript.
Bufalino at one point advised, “You need to double blind it. You need to triple blind it, actually,” an apparent suggestion that Lightbody’s connection to the land should be hidden.
Rizzo paraphrased the transcript in his May letter to the gambling commission. “The only reasonable conclusion is that at least one unsuitable person maintained an interest in the Wynn land — even if double or triple blind[ed] — until at least mid-2013,” Rizzo wrote.
Gambling regulators approved Wynn’s plan to address potential undisclosed interests in the property by slashing the purchase price to an appraised value, so no secret investors could benefit from a casino-
A Wynn Resorts spokesman declined to comment on Lightbody’s donations to Rizzo.
Mohegan Sun, which negotiated a casino host agreement with Rizzo in December, also declined to comment.
Lightbody, who could not be reached for comment, has been a frequent political donor for more than a decade to politicians of both parties, including Senator Sal N. DiDomenico, an Everett Democrat, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Mayor Carlo DeMaria of Everett, former Revere state Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, and, in 2010, Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.
Lightbody filed campaign finance reports earlier this year showing he spent several thousand dollars opposing a casino in Revere.