Casino Execs Sue Drew’s Witkoff For Millions

By Ben Hamill - July 01 2020
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Casino Execs Sue Drew’s Witkoff For Millions

Controversial New York City real estate developer Steve Witkoff and his Witkoff Group have once again been named at the centre of a legal spat involving millions, as well as alleged fraudulent activities. A group of high-profile casino executives is suing the developer for fraud and breach of contract related to the development of The Drew Las Vegas, and more specifically, their individual roles upon planned completion of the project.

Robert Mancari, Michael Tozzi, Michael Peltyn, Farik Matraki, and Paul Berry now claim having been lured to the project with elaborate promises of big-money salaries, bonuses, and handsome severance packages – only to be served with separation agreements insisting on the waiving of all claims against the developer. After having been headhunted to join the team, the affected executives say they are now being forced to make do with only two months’ remuneration.

The group was laid off between March 31 and April 7. All construction work on the project was halted around the middle of March.

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Witkoff May Have To Pay Up Big

But Witkoff and his flunkies may be in for quite a bit of labour relations drama as the contracts entered into between the developer and the executives all contain clauses providing for the full settlement of the balance of all salaries and bonuses equal to that of the remaining term of the contracts being payable in the event of termination for service for any reason other than being “fired for cause”.

Since most of the contracts were signed for a period of four years, Witkoff may very well be in line for quite the bill relating to unforeseen expenses.  The lawsuit cites the Witkoff Group, Witkoff Chairman and CEO Steve Witkoff, Steve’s son Alex Witkoff, and former MGM exec and pro-Poker player Bobby Baldwin, as the defendants in the suit. Baldwin, who was appointed CEO of The Drew Las Vegas last year, was reportedly instrumental in the recruitment of each of the 5 mentioned casino executives.

False Representations

According to the details cited in the lawsuit, all 5 executives had on multiple occasions been assured that full construction and development financing had been secured prior to their having signed their individual contracts. But contractors involved in the construction of The Drew are singing an altogether different tune and are allegedly claiming being owed at least $36 million in outstanding invoices.

This will not be the first time that Witkoff’s name has come up in a controversial dispute of this nature. The Witkoff Group was in 2018 federally implicated in a $4 billion international fraud and money laundering affair alongside rogue Malaysian businessman Jho Low, a man with a known history of funneling illicit money into multi-billion-dollar real estate deals.

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