Investigators Found a Culture of Secrecy, Failure to Follow Policies for Steve Wynn Complaints

Investigators Found a Culture of Secrecy, Failure to Follow Policies for Steve Wynn Complaints

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) unveiled its long-anticipated investigation of Wynn Resorts and Encore Boston Harbor and reported they found a company culture that did not follow policies when allegations were made against former CEO Steve Wynn, and also used extreme secrecy to hide allegations and settlements involving him in several cases.

That, however, was tempered also by a laundry list of changes that the company has made in the last 14 months, including ousting Steve Wynn and implementing a robust corporate governance structure.

“However,” said Karen Wells, MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) director, “the past cannot be erased by these changes.”

That set the tone for the unveiling of what had been found over the last year by the IEB using thousands of pages of information, conducting hundreds of witness interviews, and traveling to six states to produce the report. That report had been held up with a lawsuit from Steve Wynn last November asserting attorney-client privilege, but that suit was recently settled and that allowed the unveiling to go forward Tuesday morning.

“In evaluating the IEB investigation, it showed a pattern of certain employees, including the Legal Division, disregarding policies when it came to allegations against Mr. Wynn,” she said. “It showed they made great efforts at secrecy so that it made it difficult if not impossible for gaming regulators to uncover these incidents.”

Earlier, she also said, “The investigation actually revealed a culture in the company where employees hesitated to report sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Wynn. We found the company failed to safeguard the well-being and safety of its employees.”

At the outset of the investigation unveiling, Loretta Lillios, of the IEB, said what happened at the company mattered. She bookended the impending report with the idea that a gaming license is a privilege and not a right – noting that companies have to always keep proper policies and conduct in place or risk losing the license.

It was a warning that all things were on the table, including the loss of Encore’s license.

“The IEB’s investigation revealed the company’s adherence to these criteria has been called into question,” she said. “What happened at the company matters. It matters to the women who have been directly affected by the allegations of sexual misconduct. It matters to the workforce and employees here. It matters to the Commission. It matters to the people of Massachusetts… After all the evidence and testimony is presented, you will have ample information to apply the law and make a sound determination.”

Wells detailed for most of her presentation the allegations against Steve Wynn, using a timeline to go through the allegations and the response to them. She started in 2005 with the settlement paid to a manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas who claimed she had been raped by Steve Wynn and was now pregnant as a result of two such encounters. That allegation was detailed in the original Wall Street Journal article in January 2018 that opened the entire sexual misconduct situation.

A main issue, Wells said, was to not decide whether the allegations were true, but whether the company responded correctly and whether it should have divulged information to the MGC in 2013.

“The Commission is not evaluating whether the allegations are true or false, but it is evaluating the company’s response to the allegations,” she said. “A key question for the Commission to consider is whether the company’s failure to divulge derogatory information may have a role in suitability or the suitability of a qualifier…We now know in 2013 at least three Massachusetts qualifiers had knowledge of these allegations. They were Steve Wynn, Elaine Wynn and Kim Sinatra…A key question for the Commission is whether this relevant information should have been divulged on the front end rather than us having to investigate this now.”

The IEB also indicated that they tried to interview Steve Wynn several times, and he declined. However, he did release a statement that was read by Wells to the Commission.

“I had multiple sexual relationships during my tenure at Wynn Resorts and made no attempt to document them,” the statement read. “I do not believe any of the specific details of these relationships are material to the issues I understand are being reviewed by the special committee. I recognize some of the names obtained in the witness questions, but have no memory of ever meeting or having relationships with the women whose names are in your questions. I deny having any relationship that was not consensual. During the time I was employed by Wynn I was aware of a code of conduct and other policies. I was not however familiar with the details of those policies.”

Many of the key questions in the investigation included information garnered during discovery in the case of Elaine Wynn vs. Steve Wynn, as well as in a case known as the Okada case. Much of what was brought out in regard to the allegations and the response to them came from that case.

For Sinatra, who left the company in July 2018 with a multi-million dollar severance package, it became clear she knew of the allegations against Wynn during the 2013 suitability hearings. Yet, she did not divulge them, and the investigation seemed to suggest she wasn’t clear as to what she remembered knowing.

One such exchange involved an e-mail chain where a letter detailing a hostile working environment was described. That letter in that e-mail was up for dispute as to whether Sinatra read it, read all of it, or if she even really knew about it.

Much of her responses, according to the report, were that she didn’t recall a lot of information.

“I don’t recall if I knew in `14,” she had responded when asked if she knew the original 2005 case included a rape allegation of the manicurist.

Also in question was how the company responded after the Wall Street Journal article, including putting out an immediate statement of support letter for Steve Wynn to employees. That statement also included a reference to the article as being the latest strategy in Elaine Wynn’s legal case against the company.

Wells said that was put out before any investigation into the matter and without consideration to employees that may have been affected by Steve Wynn’s alleged behavior.

Wynn Communications Director Michael Weaver said he would not do that again if he were to do it over.

“Mr. Weaver stated to investigators that if he was to do it over again, he would do it differently,” Wells testified.

Maddox also told investigators that he simply believed Steve Wynn.

“As ridiculous as it looks now, we believed it,” Wells summarized. “We believed it. I know it’s tone deaf.”

The letter to employees went out with the input of Steve Wynn and others in the organization, but was under the signature of Wynn Las Vegas President Maurice Wooden – who indicated he was uncomfortable with the letter in his name but felt he had no choice in the matter.

That letter was followed up by what turned out to be an ill-advised Town Hall style employee meeting tour by Steve Wynn and other company officials. It had been reported in media accounts that employees at the Town Halls were asked to raise their hands if Steve Wynn had assaulted or abused them. That had not been confirmed before, but the IEB investigation revealed that Wynn Attorney Stacy Michaels told investigators that she was present and that did happen.

• • • •

The remainder of the first day of hearings focused on the new Board members and the new members of the corporate hierarchy.

The MGC listened to detailed presentations about each new Board member and each new employee. Each told the story of how they had been recruited – some by Matt Maddox – to serve on the Board in the aftermath of the crisis at the company.

All of them were being reviewed by the MGC for suitability, and if they were qualified to serve on the Board or work in their positions.

The testimony by Wynn attorneys was to begin on Wednesday, where they would present their case and ask questions regarding the IEB report.

• • • •

The MGC did remind everyone that there would be no vote at the end of the proceedings, nor would there be any sort of discussion of the report or testimony.

Instead, when all of the information had been gathered, the MGC would deliberate in private – with the option of asking for more or additional information.

At some point in the near future, they would issue their findings and their remedies – including the possibility of stripping the license – in a written report.

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In Appreciation: Remembering Elaine Richard

In Appreciation: Remembering Elaine Richard

The greatest legacy of Elaine Marie Richard was seated in the front rows at the Our Lady of Grace Church.

The four loving and devoted sons, Ken, Jim, Jack, and Edward – these four scholar-athletes, all graduates of Chelsea High School and the best universities in the nation – led a beautiful tribute to their beautiful mother.

When it came time to encapsulate all that Mrs. Richard had meant to her family and the great example she had set for her children and the family, it was Jack Richard, who stepped to the lectern to deliver the eulogy.

A brilliant, personable man who excelled at Tufts University and Boston College Law School, Jack rose to the occasion with words that showcased the richness of his talents.

“Before I speak for my brothers, I should first speak for my mother,” he began. “Many of you here today have been so good to her through the years, and I know she would want me to begin by thanking you all and by telling you how much she and we appreciate all your kindnesses to her big and small.”

Jack told the assemblage that the day truly was “a celebration of life, a full life very well-lived and filled with great joys, but also marked by great sorrows.”

Jack said their mother grew up in a big triple decker in Chelsea “in a house full of family and faith” where she was doted on by her older sister, Marjorie, and brother, Edward.

Elaine Doherty Richard was an excellent student herself and graduated at the top of her class at the St. Rose School.

“When Elaine Doherty, that cute little girl, grew to become a beautiful young woman, she met the one and only love of her life,” said Jack. “Ken Richard was talented, handsome, strong, and as we kids would say, ‘wicked smart.’”

Elaine Doherty and Kenneth Richard married when she was 22. “The four of us were always so proud of both of our parents,” said Jack.

The four boys were born five years apart. Mrs. Richard would prepare meals for her four sons and her husband each day. She would send her sons off each morning to Our Lady of Grace School. The boys did their homework at night at the dining room table with the assistance of their mother.

“But day after day, every day, Elaine Richard did it all with grace and with cheer,” said Jack. “All in all, our mom, against all the odds at that time and place, she succeeded. She was proud to say she went 4-for-4 with her sons.”

But just as Elaine and Kenneth Richard “were about to enjoy all the benefits of their work – with all four kids in college, they were finally about to get some well-deserved time together for themselves, my young and healthy dad passed away suddenly,” related Jack. “My mother’s sweet and happy world was crushed. She was only 44 years old.”

Following the death of her husband, Elaine Richard “never quit on life and she soldiered on, and day by day, year by year, she built a new life and she taught us a lesson in grace and in perseverance, a truly good example.”

“If you know my brothers and me,” then you know Elaine Richard,” said Jack. He praised his brothers, “Ken, who was thrust in to the role of the man of the house when he was just a college kid, protective of us all and the most solid dependable man there is; Jim, a deeply spiritual man whose faith and his family are the very center of his life; and Ed, the best guy with the biggest heart who would do anything for you, but also with the strongest will of anyone I’ve ever known. We are what we are because of her.”

Jack Richard said this Christmas their mother gave the family “the most important gift and lesson.”

“She taught us how to die,” said Jack. “For two weeks, we had all been taking turns at her bedside, just as she had done with us so many times when we were sick as children. We got to say how much we loved each other. We held her hand and we told her how good she was. She spoke of how this family she had built would live on, in us, in her 12 grandchildren, in her five great-grandchildren.”

Elaine Doherty Richard died on Christmas day. She was 86 years old. She will be missed.

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Steve Wynn Under the Microscope:Wynn CEO Steve Wynn, Company Push Back Against Sexual Harassment Allegations

Steve Wynn Under the Microscope:Wynn CEO Steve Wynn, Company Push Back Against Sexual Harassment Allegations

The gaming world was spun on its side Friday afternoon when a Wall Street Journal report went public and described a pattern of sexual harassment by Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn – allegations that filtered through Las Vegas and into Everett where Wynn is building a $2.4 billion resort casino just a short distance from Chelsea.

Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn.

Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn.

Chelsea has a Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) with the Wynn Boston Harbor casino.

Wynn, for his part, and the parent company, Wynn Resorts, has pushed back heavily against the allegations in strong statements on Friday.

“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” said Steve Wynn in a statement. “We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”

The report came on Friday around 2 p.m. online, and then hit the front page of the Saturday Wall Street Journal print newspaper. The story detailed – from the first paragraph – the allegation of a manicurist in Las Vegas who was called to Wynn’s office in 2005 and allegedly forced to have sex with the casino mogul. That woman was given a $7.5 million settlement after reporting the matter to Human Resources in Las Vegas.

The Journal also alleged that it interviewed dozens of other workers who have worked at Wynn casinos and they also detailed what the Journal reported as a pattern of misconduct.

That was followed up by Wynn resigning as Republican National Committee finance chairman on Saturday – a post he only took up early last year.

In their statements, Wynn and Wynn Resorts delved deep into the ongoing divorce suit between Wynn and his ex-wife, Elaine, citing that as the source of the allegations. The divorce has been ongoing for quite some time between Steve Wynn and Elaine – with the sticking point being over a revised settlement payment for Elaine Wynn’s former involvement in the business. She was a former board member of Wynn Resorts.

“The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement,” said Wynn in his statement. “Elaine has explicitly threatened to slander and destroy me and I am surprised that the media is allowing itself to be used to advance this agenda. The conduct of Elaine during the course of the pending lawsuits has been shocking and deeply disturbing to me personally and as the CEO of Wynn Resorts. Despite such conduct, I have repeatedly refused to capitulate to her demands. In response, I remain focused on Wynn Resorts, our employees and our shareholders and will not be distracted from those efforts.”

A lawyer representing Elaine Wynn told the Wall Street Journal that they were not using the allegations as a strategy in the ongoing suit.

Wynn Resorts – the Wynn parent company – went into much greater detail about the litigation.

“The recent allegations about Mr. Wynn reflect allegations made in court hearings by Mr. Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, in her legal battle with him and the company,” read the statement. “It is clear that Mr. Wynn’s ex-wife has sought to use a negative public relations campaign to achieve what she has been unable to do in the courtroom:  tarnish the reputation of Mr. Wynn in an attempt to pressure a revised divorce settlement from him.”

Wynn Resorts said it was “noteworthy” to point out that Elaine Wynn knew of the 2005 sexual harassment allegation as far back as 2009, but never made it known to the Board of Directors. She was a member of the Board at that time, and did not bring up those allegations until Steve Wynn remarried and the shareholders voted not to re-elect Elaine to the Board, they stated.

“Wynn Resorts is committed to operating with the highest ethical standards and maintaining a safe and respectful culture that has made Wynn Resorts the employer of choice for 23,000 employees worldwide,” read the statement. “The Company requires all employees to receive annual anti-harassment training and offers an independent hotline that any employee can use anonymously, without fear of retaliation. Since the inception of the company, not one complaint was made to that hotline regarding Mr. Wynn.”

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Congratulations, Kiwanis President Elaine Monge

Congratulations, Kiwanis President Elaine Monge

We join the Kiwanis Club of Chelsea in congratulating Elaine Monge on her installation as president of this outstanding service organization.

It was a proud moment for Elaine and her family as she took the oath of office at the installation luncheon at the Wyndham Chelsea Hotel.

Monge is part of a distinguished list of women such as Susan Gallant, Janice Sikorski, Barbara Martin, Renee Caso-Griffin, Saritin Rizzuto, Joan Lanzillo-Hahesy, and Michelle Perez who have not only worked in our city but have contributed so much to our residents through their service in local organizations.

Chelsea Collaborative executive director Gladys Vega, whose efforts were recognized Sunday by the National Football League, had the honor of introducing Elaine prior to the impressive installation ceremony.

Monge is a branch manager at Metro Credit Union and has worked diligently for the betterment of Chelsea people’s lives through her involvement in the Kiwanis Club of Chelsea.

We believe that Elaine is the first woman of Latino descent to lead the Kiwanis Club of Chelsea and that’s an accomplishment in which to take pride.

Elaine knows that she has big shoes to fill as president of the club. Paul Swart, one of Elaine’s colleagues at Metro Credit Union, did an outstanding job as president, and we feel that Elaine will carry on the tradition of excellence set by Paul and others who have served in the top leadership position.

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