Capitol times. (Middletown, Pa.) 1982-2013, April 21, 2010, Image 5

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    Wynn Resorts bows out of
Philadelphia casino plan
Casino operator Wynn Resorts
Ltd. said Thursday it is dropping
its bid to rescue a troubled
waterfront casino project
in Philadelphia, saying the
project isn't appropriate for the
The long-stalled Foxwoods
Philadelphia project along the
Delaware River has faced financial
difficulties and neighborhood
opposition since winning one of
two state casino licenses set aside
for the city in 2006.
"We are fascinated by the
legalization of full gaming in
Pennsylvania and stimulated by
the opportunity that it presents
for Wynn Resorts," CEO Steve
Wynn said in a brief statement.
"This particular project did not,
in the end, present an opportunity
that was appropriate for our
The Las Vegas-based company,
which runs two casino-resorts in
Sin City and expects to open its
second property in Macau later
this month, said it has terminated
agreements and negotiations
for a possible investment in the
Foxwoods project.
The announcement surprised
Philadelphia Mayor Michael
Nutter, who had met Monday
with an eager Wynn to discuss the
project that supporters had hoped
would boost the economy and
redevelop the waterfront.
"This is a stunning turn of
events," Nutter said. "I've never
seen anything like this before."
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Nutter said Wynn was as
enthusiastic a developer as he
had met. On Thursday afternoon,
Wynn's counsel told Nutter that
the decision was solely related to
the transaction and nothing to do
with the city itself, Nutter said.
Without a developer to take over
the project, opponents plan to call
anew for state regulators to yank
the license from the site.
Wynn met with Pennsylvania
state gambling regulators in
March to persuade them to let the
company take over the project
and build a $6OO million casino.
Under the plan, the state and
city would take more than half
of the casino's slot revenues
and 16 percent of its table game
Wynn would have taken a 51
percent stake in the project,
while a partnership including
the Connecticut Indian tribe that
owns Foxwoods Casino and
the charities of three wealthy
businessmen, Lewis Katz, Ron
Rubin, and Ed Snider were to
remain aboard with smaller
Wynn later provided renderings
of the proposed casino and had
until later this month to provide
construction and design details.
Pennsylvania lawmakers
legalized table games in January,
which Wynn . has said will help
it attract gamblers from farther
away and compete with gambling
industries in nearby states.
Associated Press Writer Marc
Levy in Harrisburg, Pa.,
contributed to this report.
Complaint against Pa.
jurist mishandled
For the first time, a board that
investigates and prosecutes ethics
complaints against Pennsylvania
judges has disclosed that it ignored
a 2006 complaint against a judge
now facing federal racketeering
charges because that same judge
was expected to testify for the
board's prosecutors in another
The state Judicial Conduct
Board said it put off an
investigation of then-Luzerne
County President Judge Michael
Conahan at the request of its
chief counsel because Conahan
was scheduled to testify against
his colleague, Judge Ann Lokuta,
whom the board had charged
with misconduct. Based partly
on Conahan's testimony, Lokuta
was subsequently convicted and
removed from office.
The conduct board made the
admission April 5 in a letter to
the Interbranch Commission
on Juvenile Justice, a panel
investigating the "kids-for-cash"
scandal in which Conahan is
accused of taking millions of
dollars in kickbacks to place
juveniles in for-profit detention
centers. The letter was released
Monday during the last of the
commission's public hearings
into the scandal.
Under questioning by
commission members, Joseph
Massa, chief counsel for Judicial
Conduct Board, conceded that he
mishandled the complaint against
Conahan and said that a full
investigation of the judge should
have been conducted immediately
to determine whether the board
had a "bad witness" on its hands.
"I'll hold myself accountable," he
- The eight-page complaint
contained numerous allegations
of cronyism and nepotism,
accused Conahan of having mob
ties, and, notably, mentioned his
close friendship with an attorney
who co-owned a Luzerne County
detention center where thousands
of juvenile offenders were being
Conahan and another former
Luzerne County judge, Mark
Ciavarella, face federal
racketeering charges for allegedly
taking $2.8 million in payoffs from
the attorney, Robert Powell, and
from the builder of the detention
center. The former judges have
pleaded innocent and await trial.
The September 2006 complaint
against Conahan was sent
anonymously by a staffer of
Lokuta, who at the time was the
subject of a conduct board inquiry
into allegations that she failed
to perform her judicial duties,
terrorized courthouse workers,
and had employees run personal
Lokuta and her attorneys, who
attended Monday's hearing, said
the conduct board's disclosure
bolstered their argument that her
trial was tainted. In December
2008, after the longest and most
expensive judicial ethics probe
in state history, the Pennsylvania
Court of Judicial Discipline
ousted Lokuta and barred her
from future judicial service. She
is appealing.
"I think they were more concerned
about preserving the integrity of
their witness then getting at the
truth," Lokuta's attorney, Ronald
Santora, said Monday.
But Massa testified the board's
failure to investigate Conahan
had as much to do with a lack of
manpower. He said at the time
the board employed only two
"There was nothing nefarious
in terms of subterfuge at all," he
Monday's hearing wrapped
months of investigation by the
interbranch commission, which
was created by the Legislature,
governor and state Supreme Court
in August to examine the causes
of the Luzerne County juvenile
court scandal and to recommend
changes to prevent it from
recurring. Thousands of juvenile
convictions were thrown out in
the wake of the charges against
Conahan and Ciavarella.
The commission's report and
recommendations are due in late