DOJ Filing Against Steve Wynn Creates Wrinkle In RICO Claims As Lawyers Settle Defamation Lawsuit

Written By Derek Helling on May 26, 2022Last Updated on June 30, 2022
Settlement And A Twist For Steve Wynn, The Lawsuits Updated

Former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn might not be keeping administrative assistants busy with the tasks of running a resort and entertainment company anymore, but he is creating a lot of work for other professionals. Those people are the scores of legal professionals working on numerous Steve Wynn lawsuits.

Since Wynn got an unfavorable result regarding his status with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Wynn has become the defendant in action brought by the US Department of Justice that affected a separate RICO claim against him. Additionally, Wynn has received an undisclosed amount to settle yet another dispute.

Lawyers busy with Steve Wynn lawsuits

It hasn’t been all bad news for Wynn, just mostly negative. Earlier this week, lawyers for Wynn negotiated a settlement of a defamation lawsuit in which he was the plaintiff. The monetary amount of the settlement is unknown.

As part of the settlement,
attorney Lisa Bloom retracted her claim. She stated that she acted as legal counsel for a woman who Wynn sexually assaulted. Wynn’s similar defamation claims against the Associated Press and one of its reporters are ongoing. On top of that, Wynn has other work for his counsel to attend to.

The DOJ has brought a criminal action against Wynn. It alleges that he lobbied on behalf of the People’s Republic of China in 2018 without registering as a foreign agent. Failing to do so in such instances violates the federal Foreign Agents Registry Act (FARA).

If that suit proves successful, a court could compel Wynn to complete such a registry. Counsel for Wynn maintains that he took part in no such action, and thus FARA does not apply to him. So far, it seems Wynn will contest the allegations.

Those aren’t the only allegations Wynn is currently contesting. In fact, the DOJ action has some implications for a civil complaint against Wynn.

How DOJ allegations affect RICO claims against Wynn

In a roundabout way, the DOJ might have strengthened the case against Wynn in a separate matter. A RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) lawsuit against Wynn and others in the state of Nevada recently saw a new filing.

On May 20, Weinberg Gonser Frost LLP filed a new brief in Angelica Limcaco v. Steve Wynn et al. They referenced the DOJ’s complaint against Wynn as evidence of their allegations against him.

The basis of that claim is that Wynn and others conspired to dismiss an earlier civil complaint by Limcaco. Limcaco formerly held a role as a salon supervisor at a Wynn Resorts property. She maintains that she reported that Wynn sexually assaulted another employee. She also states that Wynn Resorts illegally terminated her employment in a retaliatory act.

The complaint recently survived judicial review at the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The FARA charges against Wynn could strengthen Limcaco’s case by adding fuel to their argument that Wynn engaged in a “pattern of improper influence to protect business interests in the gaming industry.”

Essentially, the argument is that if Wynn was willing to violate FARA to protect his interests, him also firing an employee who reported a separate illegal action is no stretch of the imagination. What bears watching now is whether the DOJ action will bear even further consequences for Wynn.

Could DOJ action fuel NGCB claims too?

But wait, for Wynn lawyers, there’s more. Also, last month, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that a lower court had no jurisdiction to grant Wynn a shield from possible sanctions by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

While the NGCB has already disciplined Wynn Resorts for Wynn’s alleged sexual assaults, it has not yet done the same with Wynn himself. That could be forthcoming. Among the potential consequences for Wynn are a ban from ever holding a gambling license in the state and a fine of up to half a million dollars.

While the DOJ allegations and the sanctions against Wynn Resorts by the NGCB seem unrelated at face value, that might not be the case for Wynn personally. The NGCB can consider any illegal or unethical behavior as a potential reason for discipline when it comes to gaming license holders.

Additionally, it can sanction such individuals multiple times for separate violations. Thus, a movement against Wynn for his alleged sexual assault wouldn’t preclude later discipline for a violation of FARA.

The NGCB might wait to see how that case plays out before acting on it, however. How any of these situations will play out ultimately is uncertain.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of Playin USA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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