DeNaples can hand Mount Airy to daughter

September 23, 2009 11:55:35 AM PDT
State gambling regulators Wednesday agreed to allow Louis DeNaples to hand off his Pocono Mountains casino to his daughter as part of a deal with prosecutors who agreed to drop criminal charges against the wealthy businessman. The seven-member Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted unanimously to allow Lisa DeNaples to take over Mount Airy Casino Resort as manager of a trust that is expected to expand to include more of Louis DeNaples' children.

Both DeNaples and his daughter declined to comment to reporters on their way out of the Pennsylvania State Museum auditorium in Harrisburg where the gaming board met.

The board's decision also ends the term of the trustee whom the agency appointed to oversee the casino while DeNaples was fighting perjury charges.

"This is all part of the settlement with the Dauphin County district attorney and it's a logical conclusion to what was a very difficult time for everybody involved," said the trustee, Anthony Ceddia. "I think it also ensures the future integrity and success of Mount Airy."

DeNaples, 69, agreed in April to divest his ownership as part of a deal with Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico to drop the charges.

Mount Airy opened in Mount Pocono in October 2007. Four months later, state troopers charged DeNaples with perjury for allegedly lying to the gaming board when he was seeking a casino license about whether he had connections to organized crime.

DeNaples had maintained his innocence, and Marsico has acknowledged that problems with his case against DeNaples helped motivate a settlement.

However, DeNaples' involvement with the gaming board is not over.

DeNaples remains the financial guarantor of about $250 million in loans to Mount Airy, which means he will need to maintain a license from the gaming board and be subject to its background investigations.

The investigations are designed to help the gaming board assess whether a licensee is suitable to be associated with an industry long connected with corruption.

The board's chief enforcement counsel, Cyrus Pitre, would not comment on whether DeNaples' background investigation will include a review of material developed by the district attorney's office or interviews with people who appeared before the grand jury that recommended the perjury charges against DeNaples.

"I'm not going to comment on anything that could jeopardize that background investigation," Pitre said.

Pitre said he expected the background investigation to be complete by the spring, when the gaming board is scheduled decide in a public meeting to decide whether to renew DeNaples' license. The contents of the gaming board's background investigation reports are typically kept confidential.

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