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Former owners of Suffolk Downs file $1 billion lawsuit against Everett casino

Suffolk Downs in East Boston was a proposed location for a casino.
Suffolk Downs in East Boston was a proposed location for a casino.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/file)

The former owners of the Suffolk Downs racetrack Monday filed a $1 billion federal lawsuit against Wynn Resorts, alleging the casino giant fraudulently obtained a license for its Everett gaming palace at the expense of Suffolk, the initial front-runner for the Greater Boston license.

Many of the allegations in the 37-page civil complaint filed by Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC against Wynn Resorts have been aired in prior legal proceedings.

The suit also names current and former Wynn executives, including ousted founder Steve Wynn, and FBT Everett Realty, the company that sold its land to Wynn Resorts for the casino, as defendants.

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The filing says the suit “presents the very situation the RICO statute . . . was adopted to address: a criminal enterprise ‘competing’ unfairly with legitimate businesses through a pattern of racketeering.”

In a statement Tuesday, Wynn Resorts rejected the claims.

“This lawsuit was brought by Richard Fields, an unsuccessful applicant for the license awarded to Wynn Resorts,” the Wynn company said. “His claims are frivolous and clearly without foundation. We will mount a vigorous defense.”

The civil filing identifies Fields as the head of a company that was a “major investor” in Sterling Suffolk Racecourse.

State law requires casino applicants to disclose any criminal ties or wrongdoing among their partners and investors, which Wynn Resorts failed to do before the state Gaming Commission awarded the company a license in 2014, the complaint says. Suffolk had also been competing for the Greater Boston license.

“[T]he Wynn Defendants’ license applications were intentionally and materially false due to its non-disclosure of the involvement of convicted criminals in the ownership of the Everett Site as well as its non-disclosure of Wynn’s own pattern of sexual abuse and its cover-up,” the filing says.

To bolster its claims regarding the criminal element linked to FBT Everett Realty, Sterling Suffolk cites federal charges that were filed against Charles Lightbody, a felon with reputed mob ties, and two other men.

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They were acquitted in 2016 on charges alleging they created a scheme to make it appear as if Lightbody had sold his 12 percent interest in the property before the group reached a deal with Wynn in December 2012 to sell the land for $75 million.

“They were all acquitted at trial . . . apparently because the jury believed their defense that the alleged ‘victims’ of the falsified documents, namely the Wynn Defendants, had known full well the truth about their involvement,” the lawsuit says.

Paul Lohnes, a principal at FBT Everett Realty, declined to comment Tuesday, as did Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Gaming Commission.

Regarding Steve Wynn’s departure from the company, the lawsuit says the mogul was forced out “due to his exposure as a serial sexual predator.” In addition, the filing says the company “concealed Steve Wynn’s longstanding pattern of misconduct as a sexual predator and use of hush money to silence victims, while knowing that disclosure of this highly material information would lead to denial of the license application on suitability grounds.”

Sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn first surfaced in a Wall Street Journal article in January; he’s denied assaulting women. Wynn Resorts announced in April that its $2.5 billion Everett casino, initially called Wynn Boston Harbor, would instead open as Encore Boston Harbor. Encore is another Wynn Resorts hotel brand.

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Encore Boston Harbor, featuring a massive gambling floor, 671 hotel rooms, and 13 bars and restaurants, is scheduled to open in June 2019. Approximately 1,500 people are working at the construction site; company officials say they will need 4,000 full- and part-time workers to run the resort.

The civil filing from Sterling Suffolk says that as a result of the alleged fraud of Wynn Resorts, Suffolk “suffered actual damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but believed to be over $1 billion dollars. Moreover, [Sterling Suffolk Racecourse] is entitled to recover treble the actual damages sustained, plus costs of suit, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.”


Jon Chesto, Milton J. Valencia, and Mark Arsenault of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.