By Josh Resnek
In January 2018, when news of Steve Wynn’s sexual escapades hit the news in a Wall Street Journal investigative report, many believed it would be the end of the casino. Even the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, then headed by Stephen Crosby, informed Wynn that the disclosures of sexual assault and cover-up meant that Wynn Resorts “proceeds with this project on an at-risk basis.”
This was as close as the FBI and the State Police came to uncovering the conspiracy to cover up public corruption in Everett and the true depths of the conspiracy to award Wynn the casino license even though he was unsuitable.
It also marked the intensification of the US Attorney’s office questionable indictment and prosecution of Gary DeCicco, in what might well prove to be a fake legal maneuver to distract everyone in a position of responsibility from identifying the real culprits in the dirty land deal for the polluted former Monsanto site.
The FBI arrested DeCicco.
DiCicco was not granted bail.
He sat in jail for 15 months while the FBI tried to squeeze him into telling stories about one of the land partners, a convicted felon.
The FBI promised him he’d likely never get out of jail if he didn’t talk, according to court records from a recently filed prosecutorial misconduct complaint against the US Attorney’s office and Assistant United State’s Attorney Kristina Barclay and the FBI.
“It is apparent that the misconduct of government agents, who are sworn to uphold the law, ultimately unlawfully cost Mr. DeCicco fifteen months of his freedom, irreparable damage to his reputation, and millions of dollars before he was acquitted by the jury,” wrote Attorney Tracy Miner in her filing with the Office of Professional Responsibility.
Miner claimed FBI agents Jesse Chizmadia and Matthew Elio and Barclay were all guilty of misconduct that included but was not limited to, claiming recorded calls had been made when they weren’t, that the government withheld evidence, that it forced an FBI informant and encouraged him to lie, and that the entire investigation disproved prior allegations against DeCicco, who they believed must be guilty of something, if not what they charged.
The government misrepresented facts to the court. It violated its discovery obligations. FBI interviews with their chief informant were not memorialized. Some unfinished interviews made two years before DeCicco’s trial showed up in a finished form when the government rushed to complete them long after the fact.
As the DeCicco case wound its way to trial in Federal District Court, Wynn bought the license.
Wynn was ultimately granted the license despite being unqualified to hold it, earning the license by paying for it with a $35 million fine.
The qualified candidates for the license from Revere’s Suffolk Downs Group lost it
Crosby later resigned. Some say he got out before the State Police and FBI turned on him because of the evidence that was gathered against him revealing he was a business partner of Paul Lohnes.
Crosby did not make it to the grand opening and neither did the Wynn name on the side of the casino.
Few remember the close call that almost ruined Wynn just as the ink was drying on the option agreement signed with the owners of the land, FBT Everett Realty.
The largest shareholder of FBT was Lohnes, a developer based in Cambridge.
Lohnes is politically connected in Massachusetts.
He is tight with former governor Bill Weld and was business partners with former chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Crosby. In fact, he was a business partner of Crosby’s and he is believed to have owed Lohnes money for a failed business the two shared.
The FBI and the State Police knew of the Crosby-Lohnes relationship, and of the obvious conflict of interest, but chose to withhold that information from the investigations they conducted.
Wire taps of Lohnes by the FBI and the State Police were apparently plentiful as those two agencies wire-tapped nearly everyone involved.
Mayor DeMaria, Lohnes, and all his partners were wiretapped.
Key wiretaps recording conversations between Crosby and Lohnes, Lohnes and his partners, former governor Weld and others have either disappeared or have been destroyed or remain unavailable by the FBI and the State Police.
On December 11, 2012, Lt. Michael Kradolfer was at MCI Shirley where he monitored phone calls of inmates. One of those calls was with one of the FBT partners who had a criminal record who was discussing how Lohnes was hiding his interest in the casino. The tapes went back to August 16, 2012 where the guy with the record was talking about Lohnes and how they were going to use a secret limited liability company or real estate tax laws to hide the ownership. Nobody with a criminal record could have a part of the sale of land to Wynn.
Kradolfer knew the recorded conversations would be of interest to the FBI. In fact, even though Kradolfer worked for the Commonwealth at MCI Shirley, he was also a Federal Task Force Officer to the FBI in Boston.
On December 12, 2012, he drove CD copies of the tapes to the FBI’s office in Chelsea where two FBI agents listened and, soon thereafter, launched an investigation into Lohnes, the business manager at FBT, Dustin DeNunzio and the guy with the criminal record.
The FBI, who has a strained relationship with the Massachusetts State Police, kept the information they had on the tapes confidential. They continued to get new tapes from Kradolfer, conducted surveillance and initiated wiretaps on a few members at FBT to see if there was something sinister afoot.
On July 2, 2013, nearly 7 months after the FBI first heard the tapes, the FBI went to the office of Massachusetts State Police then-Major Francis Hughes. Hughes then contacted two state police officers who were assigned to the Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Things started to happen after Major Hughes, who would later head the Massachusetts State Police before resigning, got ahold of the jailhouse tapes that implicated Lohnes.
FBT’s manager, DeNunzio, took action to hide FBT’s partner with a criminal past by backdating business documents. Those actions also provided protection for Lohnes who was implicated in the jailhouse tapes. DeNunzio chose an interesting date in trying to hide the ownership of FBT’s partner with a criminal past, August 15, 2012. It was one day before the jailhouse tapes started to be recorded. Clearly, knowledge of the jailhouse tapes shared with Major Hughes made its way to DeNunzio in an effort to hide information that would have implicated Lohnes.
Whether the State Police went directly to Lohnes to give him a heads up or whether it was someone at Wynn’s high powered consulting firm, ML Strategies where Bill Weld worked, we may never know.
This information was not difficult to piece together. Transcripts from a federal trial in April 2016 were easy to obtain. That trial was the prosecution of three of FBT’s partners accused of backdating documents associated with the partner who had a criminal record. The three partners were found not guilty and the fourth partner, Lohnes, was never indicted, never called as a witness, and his name has mostly been out of the media.
Perhaps Attorney General Maura Healey and US Attorney Andrew Lelling should take a look at that trial’s information.
Had the Massachusetts Gaming Commission known about this, they may have launched yet another investigation that would have ensnared Lohnes, former MGC chairman Crosby, Weld and perhaps a few high-level executives at Wynn Resorts.
But that would have meant that the license would have gone to Sterling Suffolk. Things would have been different.
Instead of investigating Lohnes and Crosby, the FBI and US Attorney’s office turned their wrath on DeCicco, one of the original landowners, with a Federal case that went from nothing to nowhere.
The FBI detoured from getting to the bottom of the land mystery by chasing DeCicco for information about one of the land owners who they believed was a organized crime member about which DeCicco had information.
The government stuck by its fictional story at trial, causing the trial judge to admonish the government.
The judge implied the government acted in bad faith based on the evidence. The court noted its concern with the prosecution and the FBI’s handling of the case and its lack of diligence and competence. The court found “disconcerting” the prosecution’s failure to communicate with Special Agent Chizmadia, the repeated belated production of exculpatory evidence, and the fact “without dogged persistent defense counsel, much of this evidence may never have seen the light of day.”
DiCicco was acquitted after one hour of jury deliberations.
Following the acquittal, the informant used against DeCicco told associates he only did what “his friends” at the FBI told him to do, according to the OPR filing by Miner.
DeCicco was indicted again by Barclay and the FBI last year and remains under indictment today.
Lohnes is still in real estate development, most recently opening a new hotel in Salem, MA. His business manager? Dustin DeNunzio who managed the FBT property and was at the center of backdating documents to hide Lohnes initial plans to hide the guy with a criminal record.
Our own Governor Charlie Baker was at the groundbreaking in Salem for Lohnes’ Hampton Inn in October 2018 where the two were pictured together smiling.
In Massachusetts, political connections get things done and they can also help you out of a bind.