Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Facing State Ethics Probe

Did Stephen Crosby really recuse himself from the licensing process for the Region A casino?

Wynn Everett

A rendering of the future $1.6 billion Wynn Resorts casino in Everett. / Courtesy Photo

Add an ethics investigation to the growing list of headaches attached to the eastern Massachusetts casino licensing process.

The chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is under investigation by the State Ethics Commission for improperly recusing himself from the decision-making process that led to Wynn Resorts being awarded the lone eastern Massachusetts casino license.

Crosby recused himself in May 2014 from the licensing process when it was revealed that he had ties to the owners of the Everett land that Wynn was interested in appropriating for its $1.6 billion casino. The State Ethics Commission, according to a report in Wednesday’s Boston Globe, is investigating claims from an unidentified person that Crosby continued to meddle in the Region A licensing process even though he publicly recused himself.

According to the Globe, the unidentified person submitted a sworn statement claiming that Crosby continued to involve himself in the licensing process after his public recusal that violated elements of Massachusetts conflict of interest laws.

The land deal for the Wynn casino has been a source of controversy throughout the casino licensing process due to questions over whether or not convicted felons had ties to the property. Crosby’s relationship was not with one of the felons, but Paul Lohnes, an old national guard friend who later went on to invest in his TV guide business. In an ethics disclosure form filed with the MGC, Crosby stated that he has only socialized with Lohnes and his family five to 10 times in the last decade. The business arrangement between the two ended in 1990.

Crosby’s role on the commission has been a source of frustration for Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The city has made him a focal point in their lawsuits over the Wynn license and argued that he should have stepped away from the eastern Massachusetts license process much sooner than he actually did. Walsh, along with the city’s attorneys, has called for a new commission to be assembled and for a reboot of the licensing process.

“I have rigorously adhered to all regulations and guidance provided to me by the State Ethics Commission over the last three years,” Crosby said in a statement to the Globe.

He could face up to $25,000 in fines if he is found to have violated the state’s ethics laws.