Ex-Wynn Resorts Worker Alleges Casino Giant Spied on Him
The Wall Street Journal
October 18, 2019
A former Wynn Resorts Ltd. WYNN -1.11% employee sued the casino giant, claiming that it organized a spy operation against him after he described sexual-misconduct allegations against the company’s founder, Steve Wynn.
Jorgen Nielsen, who worked as artistic director for the Wynn Las Vegas salon, named several current and former Wynn executives as defendants in his lawsuit, filed in Nevada state court. They include Chief Executive Officer Matt Maddox, former General Counsel Kimmarie Sinatra and a former executive vice president in charge of corporate security, James Stern.
In a written statement, Wynn Resorts said the lawsuit is without merit. “The company didn’t authorize any inappropriate surveillance activity,” the company said.
David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, the attorneys for Mr. Stern, issued a statement that their client denies wrongdoing, adding that they plan to seek to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Mr. Nielsen’s lawsuit doesn’t name Mr. Wynn as a defendant. Mr. Wynn’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment. Mr. Wynn said last year that the idea he would ever assault a woman was preposterous.
Ms. Sinatra didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts in February 2018 after The Wall Street Journal published an article detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn toward employees. The Journal reported that Mr. Wynn paid $7.5 million in 2005 to a manicurist who told others he forced her to have sex. Mr. Nielsen was quoted by name in two articles about Mr. Wynn and the company.
The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Stern proposed spying on Mr. Nielsen and that Mr. Maddox and Ms. Sinatra gave their approval.
In April 2018, Mr. Wynn filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Nielsen, claiming he had made false statements about Mr. Wynn and alleged sexual misconduct in media reports. That suit is pending in a Nevada state court. In a motion to dismiss, Mr. Nielsen argued that the defamation suit is an attempt at intimidation.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission investigated the allegations against Mr. Wynn and held a three-day hearing in April of this year on them and on the company’s response. The commission allowed the company to keep a license for its Encore Boston Harbor resort, which opened in June. It fined Wynn Resorts $35 million and Mr. Maddox $500,000 personally.
Mr. Maddox told investigators that after the Journal’s reporting it was common knowledge Mr. Nielsen was talking to people about Mr. Wynn and that Mr. Stern suggested having someone go to his new place of employment to determine what he was saying, according to the Massachusetts regulators’ report.
Mr. Stern suspected that Mr. Nielsen had stolen a list of employee contact information, according to the Massachusetts report. An operative working for Wynn Resorts didn’t indicate that Mr. Nielsen had stolen any information, according to the Massachusetts report.