Steve Wynn RICO Lawsuit: Appellate Court Hears Oral Arguments

A lawsuit that accuses Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts, and others of bribery, racketeering, and attempting to corrupt the judicial process went to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

Steve Wynn
Steve Wynn
Steve Wynn, above, attending an event in Los Angeles in 2015. Three years later, he left the gaming industry under a cloud after being accused of sexual misconduct. He denies the allegations. (Image: Getty)

The suit was brought by former Wynn Las Vegas salon manager Angelica Limcaco, who says she blew the whistle on Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct back in 2005.

Her claim that Wynn raped and impregnated a manicurist at the salon was the basis of a 2018 Wall Street Journal article that alleged the billionaire “sexualized his workplace and pressured workers to perform sex acts.”

Wynn denies the allegations, but subsequently paid the manicurist a $7.5 million settlement. He resigned from the casino industry soon after the WSJ story, selling his stake in the casino empire that bears his name.

Conspiracy Alleged

Limcaco initially sued her former employer in 2018, alleging sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. She claims she was bullied into silence after she came forward and was later blackballed from the gaming industry.

The original complaint was dismissed in April 2020 under the statute of limitations. But it was the nature of the dismissal that prompted Limcaco to file the RICO suit later that year.

Wynn’s lead counsel in the case, Elayna Youchah, was appointed a magistrate judge mid-case and recused herself. That made her a colleague of presiding judge Miranda M. Du, who dismissed the case shortly after Youchah began her new role.

Around the same time, Wynn Resorts made a donation to the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada (LACSN). The organization’s executive director is former Democratic leader of the Nevada Assembly Barbara Buckley, who was also on the panel that selected Youchach for the magistrate position.

Limacaco’s second complaint claimed there was a high-level conspiracy to protect Wynn Resorts’ license in Massachusetts, which was then under scrutiny by state gaming regulators because of the sexual misconduct allegations.

‘Substantial’ Arguments

The lower court dismissed the case in November 2021, calling the allegations “highly speculative.” But the appellate panel refused to do so. It determined that “arguments raised in the opening brief are sufficiently substantial to warrant further consideration.”

On Tuesday, after hearing arguments, the panel did not issue a ruling and gave no indication of when a determination would be reached The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

But US District Judge Ryan Nelson told Limcaco’s attorney, Jordan Matthews, that even if the allegation that Youchah was appointed by improper influence was assumed to be true, there was “no allegation” that she actually influenced Du’s ruling.

In a statement to Wednesday, Matthews said: “We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit considered our arguments concerning our civil RICO claims. The claims are thoroughly documented and supported by directly related and coinciding investigations and actions by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. We will leave the issues to the Ninth Circuit to make a determination.”

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