Investigators from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) reported last Thursday, Sept. 3, during a regular meeting that there was no factual basis to the allegations that two former State Troopers had gained unauthorized access to the state Attorney General’s wiretap room.
The allegations first came within the lawsuit against the MGC by the City of Boston, which alleges that former State Troopers (now working as private investigators) Joseph Flaherty and Stephen Matthews gained access to the “wiretap room” in order to investigate the ownership of the casino land on behalf of Wynn. Specifically, they are alleged to have been looking into any owners who had criminal records, such as former owner Charlie Lightbody of Revere.
Interim Executive Director Karen Wells said it was absolutely groundless.
“We have considered the allegations and find there is absolutely not factual basis to support the allegations,” she said. “I’m reminded of the children’s game of telephone. One child makes a statement and it goes around the circle, and in the end it’s something totally different. In the game, people think it’s funny. In this case, it’s not funny. It’s not a children’s game but rather serious allegations of misconduct.”
Wells said her investigation revealed that someone saw one of the Troopers in a conference room looking over files.
Those files, she said, were not related to Wynn or the land deal, and the former Trooper was there long after the allegation detailed.
His presence, however, was told from one person to another, and eventually ended up as a vicious rumor that turned into an allegation seized upon by Boston in its lawsuit.
A similar conclusion was reached earlier this summer by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz within the course of a criminal investigation into those involved in the casino land sale, including Lightbody.
In that instance, both Flaherty and Matthews issued sworn affidavits that they did not enter into the “wiretap room” while employed by Wynn to find out about the Everett land sale.
Meanwhile, Mintz Levin Chairman Robert Popeo also appeared before the MGC to explain the situation.
He indicated, like Wells, that Matthews had never worked for him on behalf of Wynn – and had actually worked for the competing casino proposal at Suffolk Downs.
Flaherty did work for him to investigate the land deal, and Wynn was billed for 12.45 hours of his work. His investigation was conducted between Oct. 18 and Nov. 13, 2013.
Popeo said Wynn had considered creating a position for Flaherty to do some investigations, but then decided against funding the position.
It came when Popeo said his firm and Wynn were “blindsided” by allegations that there was a secret owner in the casino land who had a criminal record.
“Because I felt blindsided, I asked Joseph Flaherty to see for us if there were any organized crime elements,” he said. “I was looking at the owners [of the land] and those connected to them. It had come to the attention of Wynn there were others and I had never heard the names of these others. He put in 12.5 hours within a month and go back to us about his inability to find any connections to the people we were dealing with.”
He also added that hiring Flaherty was an action taken by him at Mintz Levin, and not something done by ML Strategies – the public relations and consulting firm representing Wynn.
“There were no visits to the office of the attorney general,” he said. “He was not asked to and nothing about the engagement that would require him to and he and indicated he did not.”
Added Wells, “The Commission’s report by the Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) for the Commission should really put this issue to bed.”