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Editorial

Everett’s land-buying scheme should draw official scrutiny

FACED WITH the distinct possibility of losing out on a casino, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria has resorted to some creative measures to keep the plan alive. His latest gambit is a scheme to seize the land slated for the casino by eminent domain and then sell it to Steve Wynn, the wealthy Las Vegas developer. Of course, Wynn can afford to buy the land himself; originally he had planned to. It’s the sellers, FBT Realty, who’ve put the entire $1.6 billion project in jeopardy. State gambling regulators have insisted that FBT’s principals all sign a promise that there are no hidden partners who’ll benefit from the $35 million land sale — a pledge that one of the owners, Anthony Gattineri, refuses to make. DeMaria’s plan would technically make the City of Everett the seller to Wynn, not FBT; Everett could then sign the pledge required by the gaming commission.

That’s too cute by a half. DeMaria’s plan may satisfy the letter of the commission’s requirements, but it wouldn’t address the underlying reason regulators raised objections in the first place: fears that an associate of the parcel’s owners, convicted criminal Charles A. Lightbody, might end up receiving part of the profit from the opening of a casino on the site. Lightbody, who has gone to prison for assault with a dangerous weapon and pled guilty in a New York identity theft ring, was initially part of the land’s ownership group. Although he claims to have sold his stake, Lightbody was recorded during a visit to an imprisoned associate boasting that he retained a secret interest in the property. The City of Everett can take the land, but it’ll still have to pay FBT, money that would wind up with Lightbody if he does indeed still have a hidden stake.

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