By Seth Daniel
Stunning federal prosecutors and some in the legal community, three co-defendants in the federal trial regarding the Wynn land sale, including Revere’s Charlie Lightbody, were found not guilty on all counts in Boston Federal Court late on Friday, April 29.
The case featured three full weeks of jury empanelment, opening statements, closing statements and a witness list that included members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), State Police Troopers and even high-ranking Wynn Resorts employees. And though millions of words were spoken
The verdict was stunning in the courtroom as the jury deliberated only one afternoon and one day on what was a very complex case regarding whether or not the three defendants falsified property records to hide the fact that Lightbody – a felon – was part of the ownership.
Though the other two defendants, Dustin DeNunzio of Cambridge and Anthony Gattinieri of Winchester, were prominent in the case, it was Lightbody that received the greatest amount of attention.
In the end, the jury didn’t buy the prosecution’s testimony as presented by Federal Prosecutor Ted Merritt – who successfully prosecuted the high-profile federal case against former Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) Director Michael McLaughlin.
The reasonable doubt in the criminal case likely came due to the candid testimony of MGC investigators and commissioners – as well as a sterling defense. MGC officials were pushed to say that there was nothing in the law banning a felon from owning land, while another investigator indicated that the law was new and some things were done on the fly.
Those revelations, which came early in the trial, seemed to set a tone for holding the plaintiffs not guilty, seemingly inferring that the entire process and court case was based on an uncertain, new process that no one had a firm grip upon.
The testimony from Wynn officials in the first week of the trial was heated and contentious, but didn’t seem to offer any new revelations within the case – which was first presented and reported in 2014. Likewise, jailhouse phone calls between Lightbody and convicted organized crime associate Darin Bufalino also didn’t play as big as expected, tapes that were littered with f-bombs and inconsequential information about Internet conspiracy theories amidst the relevant evidence.
Lightbody’s attorney, Charles Rankin, told the newspaper that he had no comment at this time regarding the case.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office said they believed they had enough evidence for a conviction, but also plan to respect the verdict.
“In bringing this case, the government believed that it had the evidence necessary to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and while we are disappointed in the jury’s verdict, we respect the jury’s decision,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “I commend the prosecution team and investigators who worked tirelessly to bring this case to trial.”
All three men were indicted federally in the fall of 2014 and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aiding and abetting.
Lightbody and the other two defendants do still face state charges regarding that they allegedly lied to investigators. A state Grand Jury returned indictments of the three men in 2014 on charges of impeding a gaming investigation, conspiracy and tampering with evidence.
One other property owner in the partnership, Paul Lohnes, was not charged.