A federal judge ruled Monday that a reputed Mafia associate’s financial interest in land that was being scouted for the Wynn Resorts casino in Everett could serve as the basis for fraud charges against the associate and two other men.
Charles Lightbody, a reputed Mafia associate, and codefendants Anthony Gattineri and Dustin J. DeNunzio are slated to go to trial next month on wire fraud charges, for allegedly scheming to hide Lightbody’s financial interest in the Everett property that was being scouted by Wynn.
The state Gaming Commission in 2014 awarded Wynn the region’s sole casino license, to be built on that Everett land, only after it confirmed that Lightbody had sold his financial interest in the property. The sale price of the property was also reduced, from more than $70 million to $45 million.
Prosecutors allege that Lightbody and his codefendants sought to defraud Wynn and the state by hiding Lightbody’s financial interest. Lightbody is a convicted felon, and prosecutors had argued that state law prohibits felons from benefiting from any casino-related business.
Prosecutors had learned that Lightbody had a hidden financial interest in the property only after he had discussed it with a reputed Mafia associate while visiting the associate in prison.
In advance of trial, lawyers for Lightbody’s codefendants had argued that prosecutors have misinterpreted state law, which would collapse the fraud charges. The lawyers, led by DiNunzio’s attorney Joshua Levy, had argued that the Gaming Commission could still have awarded Wynn the casino even after it learned that Lightbody had a criminal past.
Prosecutors argued — and US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton agreed — that the argument was pointless, because prosecutors were only seeking to prove that Lightbody was hiding his financial interest and that the scheme “could have” misled the Gaming Commission.
Prosecutor Kristina Barclay said the only reason that the Gaming Commission was not misled is because prosecutors detected Lightbody’s scheme. Even after that, she argued, the commission still worked to ensure that Lightbody did not have a financial interest.
“The Gaming Commission would not have awarded the license to Wynn if it believed Mr. Lightbody would have benefitted,” Barclay said.
Gorton rejected the defendants’ requests to prevent prosecutors from trying to define state law at the trial, though he said he would revisit that request at a later date if prosecutors seek to introduce an incorrect definition to a jury.
The request is one of several that lawyers for the defendants have made in advance of trial, which begins with jury selections on April 11. The case is the first allegation of corruption related to Massachusetts’ fledging casino industry to go to trial.
Separately, lawyers for Lightbody sought to have the case postponed until another date or to have Lightbody tried separately, saying he is still recovering from recent cancer treatments. Prosecutors opposed the request, however, saying Lightbody has been active and engaging in recreational activities.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.