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Wynn Resorts threatens to file defamation suit against Mayor Walsh

Wynn Resorts chief executive Steve Wynn.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/File 2014

Wynn Resorts is threatening to sue Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston for defamation unless he apologizes for the “false statements and untrue innuendo” contained in subpoenas and other documents recently filed as part of the city’s lawsuit against the state gambling commission.

“Apparently, you have conducted yourselves with reckless disregard for the truth because you somehow feel your actions are immune from accountability,” wrote Wynn’s lawyer, Barry B. Langberg, to Walsh and the city’s two main lawyers. “Such is not the case.”

He urged Walsh to “cease your campaign of falsehoods against my client,” threatening to sue the city as well as Walsh personally.


In a terse response to the letter, Walsh spokeswoman Laura Oggeri said: “We dispute all of the assertions in the letter and we stand firmly behind the allegations in the amended complaint.”

In his letter, Wynn’s lawyer cites two examples of what he calls “false statements” contained in subpoenas issued by the city last week to more than a dozen current and former state troopers and others associated with the Wynn casino project in Everett.

A judge last week ruled that the people who received subpoenas will not have to appear for depositions before she hears the gambling commission’s motions to dismiss Boston’s lawsuit on Thursday.

Several of the city’s subpoenas involve a 2013 incident in which two former state troopers were allegedly allowed into a secure room in the attorney general’s office to review confidential files.

The city asserted that those two retired troopers were working on behalf of Steve Wynn and his casino company and were given access to investigatory files related to Charles Lightbody, a felon who owned a piece of the property where Wynn Resorts is planning to build the casino.

“Wynn did not employ the named investigators and Wynn has no knowledge of anyone obtaining improper access to police files,” wrote Langberg, adding: “The language of your subpoena was not typical legal wording but instead was designed to spread vicious falsehoods.”


Wynn’s lawyer also took issue with the subject of another subpoena that suggested Wynn representatives had attended a meeting where Lightbody’s “ownership interest” in the land was discussed.

Wynn officials have insisted they did not know that Lightbody was a secret owner of the land until gambling commission investigators told them in July 2013 — several months after the alleged meeting took place.

“No such discussion ever took place and the suggestion that Wynn employees knew of and discussed such ownership interest is false and defamatory,” wrote Langberg.

Wynn’s lawyers also allege that the city turned over legal documents, including the subpoenas, to the media “even before they were served.”

“Proper and ethical conduct on your part at this point demands that you do everything in your power to correct the falsehoods you have spread and mitigate the damage caused by those reckless and untrue statements,” Langberg wrote.

In May, the city filed a 158-page lawsuit against the gambling commission, alleging the agency violated the state’s casino law and its own regulations to make sure Wynn was granted a license to build his $1.75 billion casino in Everett.

Wynn’s project beat out rival Mohegan Sun for the sole casino license in Eastern Massachusetts.

Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for the gambling commission, declined to comment on the letter sent to the city, saying the agency is “still in the process of reviewing the correspondence.”


The city’s lawsuit contained a number of new allegations that were not contained in its original lawsuit filed in January, including a charge that Wynn’s representatives knew that two criminals had owned the land but did virtually nothing to make sure they were no longer involved when they signed an option agreement with FBT Everett Realty, the owners of record, in December 2012.

Wynn paid FBT Everett Realty $100,000 a month until the land was finally transferred earlier this year for $35 million.

Lightbody and two of the owners of FBT Realty are under state and federal indictment, accused of covering up Lightbody’s continuing ownership interest until at least 2013.

This would not be the first defamation suit filed by Wynn against his critics.

Last year, Wynn sued a hedge fund manager, Jim Chanos, for telling people at a private event that Wynn and his company had violated the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Macau.

But in March, a judge dismissed the suit and ordered Wynn to pay Chanos’s legal expenses.

Wynn won a multimillion-dollar judgment against Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, who filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying Wynn, according to news reports.

Francis had made a number of allegations against Wynn, including charges that the casino mogul had threatened his life.

Read the letter delivered to the city:

Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea.estes@globe.com.