A federal judge heard arguments Wednesday over allegations that private investigators working for Wynn Resorts gained unauthorized access to files in a joint state and federal criminal probe that now figures into Massachusetts's biggest casino project.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Marianne Bowler took the arguments under advisement and is expected to decide whether to hold a hearing on the allegations as requested by defense lawyers for former owners of the waterfront property where Wynn wants to develop a $1.7 billion casino.
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Charles Lightbody, Dustin DeNunzio and Anthony Gattineri are charged with wire fraud. The former owners of the property in Everett are accused of trying to conceal from state gambling investigators and Wynn that Lightbody, a convicted felon and known mob associate, was a silent partner who would be profiting from the multi-million dollar land deal with the casino giant, in violation of state law.
In attacking the government's case Wednesday, defense lawyers alleged that two former state troopers working for Wynn were allowed into a secure location in the state attorney general's office in 2013 to review "sensitive, confidential" files in an ongoing investigation of the landowners.
Michael Connolly, Gattineri's attorney, said questions also should be answered as to whether Wynn was complicit in a cover-up to preserve its development, which is expected to be the most lucrative gambling operation in the state when it opens in 2018.
"Wynn had every reason to support this criminal investigation where it is an alleged victim," he argued. "If it was known to have willingly tolerated the presence of a felon, it might have run the risk of losing its license."
But prosecutors dismissed the allegations as conjecture.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristina Barclay said the former state troopers provided sworn affidavits stating that the 2013 review as described by the defense never happened. Instead, former troopers Stephen Matthews and Joseph Flaherty say they reviewed documents at the state attorney general's office twice in March 2014 but in an unrelated case.
"There are no unanswered questions," said Barclay, who also challenged the defense's contention that they could provide other witnesses who can testify to the contrary. "It's hearsay."
The so-called "wiretap room" review also has played a prominent role in civil lawsuits filed by Boston, Revere and Somerville. The three cities are challenging the state's decision to award Wynn the Boston-area gambling license last fall. Boston, in particular, argues that the alleged review is further proof that the licensing process was compromised.