STATE-APPOINTED CONSERVATOR OF TROPICANA CASINO AMASSED
$7.4 MILLION FOR CONSULTANTS INCLUDING HIS OWN LAW FIRM
Legislation that would bar state-appointed conservators or appointees from using their position to steer work to firms employing them, or their family members, is being drafted by Assemblymen Vince Polistina and John Amodeo in response to the large consulting fees amassed during the state-supervised sale of the Tropicana Casino and Resort.
Retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein, who admittedly knew little about the casino industry, racked up more than $7.4 million in consulting fees ? including millions to a North Jersey law firm that employs him and his son and charged $900 an hour ? while he oversaw the Tropicana sale. The casino is being sold for $200 million after Stein had rejected offers of nearly $1 billion.
?It is unacceptable but not surprising that this transaction would drag on for almost two years yielding a cut-rate price for the sale and ballooning legal fees for the law firm of the state-appointed conservator,? Polistina said. ?Governor Corzine?s Casino Control Commission showed poor judgment by appointing a conservator with no casino experience, while the conservator showed a conflict of interest by rewarding his law firm with work related to the sale.?
Polistina and Amodeo, both R-Atlantic, said they will introduce legislation aimed at preventing future conflicts of interest such as this one once the Legislature reconvenes this fall.
?These positions should be about serving the public good, not personal profit,? Amodeo said. ?People have lost too many jobs in Atlantic City to be further damaged by political games played by Governor Corzine?s Casino Control Commission and its appointees. This is yet another example of how New Jerseyans and their livelihoods have taken a back seat to the governor?s political considerations. Our legislation will make it tougher for them to receive such shabby treatment in the future.?