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BOSTON (AP) — Owners of the heavily polluted waterfront property that Wynn Resorts plans to develop into a $1.6 billion resort casino attempted to conceal the fact that a convicted felon and known mob associate was profiting from the land deal, according to federal and state grand jury indictments unsealed Thursday.
The indictments allege that Charles Lightbody, Dustin DeNunzio and Anthony Gattineri created fraudulent documents in an effort to mislead state investigators and Wynn, which won the lucrative Boston-area resort casino license in September with a plan to build a gleaming new luxury resort casino complex in Everett, a Boston suburb.
The three men have been arrested and charged with federal conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aiding and abetting. They also face state level charges that they impeded a Massachusetts Gaming Commission investigation and tampered with evidence.
In federal court Thursday, Lightbody, 54, of Revere, did not enter a plea and will remain in custody until his next court date Tuesday. Lightbody's attorney Robert Goldstein said his client maintains his innocence and should not be detained because he does not present a flight risk.
"He knew that this day would be coming," Goldstein said after the arraignment. "What we all need to remember is that what he's being charged with is a real estate investment (from) some years ago. That's what this case is all about...He purchased this land well before there was any interest in casinos."
DeNunzio, 37, of Cambridge, and Anthony Gattineri, 56, of Winchester, both pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released Thursday.
The men are partners in FBT Everett Realty LLC, which owns the roughly 30-acre former Monsanto chemical plant property.
Wynn Resorts signed an option agreement on the land in December 2012 and has been paying FBT Everett Realty $100,000 a month for the right to eventually purchase the property if it won the casino license. But questions about Lightbody's stake in the land, which Wynn had ultimately expected to buy for $35 million, loomed over the license deliberations. State law prohibits criminals from profiting from gambling facilities.
Prosecutors allege Lightbody, DeNunzio and Gattineri, in an attempt to assuage concerns, created fraudulent documents claiming that Lightbody had transferred his ownership stake to Gattineri for a $1.7 million promissory note. The state indictment includes similar allegations and also charges Lightbody with assaulting a man during a casino election rally in Revere in October 2013.
The three will be arraigned on the state charges at a later date. They face up to 20 years in prison on the federal wire fraud charges and five years on the state charges if convicted.
Wynn declined to comment Thursday on the ownership status of the land, only issuing a short statement applauding the "rigor and diligence" demonstrated by state officials.
A state Gaming Commission spokeswoman said the indictment is not expected to change the panel's decision to award Wynn the casino license, adding that the charges send a "loud message" that the agency is committed to preserving the "integrity of the gaming industry."
Opponents of the Wynn project, though, reacted swiftly. Mohegan Sun, which lost to Wynn in the gambling license competition, said the indictments have "darkened a cloud" that's long lingered over the Everett land.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh directed his criticism at gambling regulators: "The Massachusetts Gaming Commission and their investigatory body clearly failed the people of Boston and of the Commonwealth by allowing -- even remotely -- the taint of corruption to be associated with this land transaction."
And anti-casino activists, who are supporting November's ballot question to repeal the state's casino law and halt any gambling projects, said the indictments are another black eye for state lawmakers.
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