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Prominent gay donor, philanthropist faces Vegas casino debt charge

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Earth Bound Misfit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 05:02 PM
Original message
Prominent gay donor, philanthropist faces Vegas casino debt charge
Edited on Fri Feb-06-09 05:10 PM by Earth Bound Misfit
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/02/06/ap6017867.html

A prominent Nebraska philanthropist faces felony theft and bad check charges after allegedly running up almost $15 million in gambling debts at two Las Vegas casinos.

Terrance Watanabe, 52, must appear in court Feb. 18 to answer charges stemming from allegations that he failed to make good on casino loans, called markers, he obtained from Caesars Palace and the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, officials said Thursday.

"He had no intention of not paying his lawful obligations," said his attorney, David Chesnoff, pointing to what he called Watanabe's "history of philanthropy and his history as a great customer at Las Vegas casinos."

A four-count criminal complaint alleges Watanabe failed to make good on 38 casino markers worth $14.75 million written in 2007. The markers were issued from Oct. 22 to Dec. 11 for amounts ranging from $200,000 to $875,000 at the two Harrah's Entertainment Inc. properties. The complaint doesn't specify what Watanabe gambled on.

--snip--

Chesnoff said Watanabe will "absolutely" plead not guilty when the time comes. He could face probation or up to 16 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Watanabe is the son of Harry Watanabe, founder of Oriental Trading Co., an Omaha, Neb., company that grew from a gift shop in 1932 to a large import wholesaler and direct marketer of toys, novelties and party supplies.

Terrance "Terry" Watanabe headed the company for 23 years before selling it in 2000. He has since developed a reputation as a generous benefactor to political campaigns and nonprofit organizations.

This from Mother Jones about Watanabe: http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/mojo_400/16_watanabe.html


A plaque at the San Francisco Public Library bears the name of Terry Watanabe, honoring him as a prominent gay donor to the institution. A leader in the fight against AIDS, Watanabe makes no secret of his support of gay rights -- but he did manage to conceal his campaign contributions until after the election. Watanabe gave $500,000 to the Democratic National Committee on November 1, and followed up with another $100,000 two weeks later, ensuring that his support would not be revealed before voters went to the polls.

Watanabe gave all his money to the Democrats, with one exception: Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Omaha. Oriental Trading Company, the direct-marketing firm founded by Watanabe's father, is based in Omaha.



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marshall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 05:16 PM
Response to Original message
1. But will it hurt his chances if Obama nominates him to a cabinet position?
That's the important question nowadays.
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Earth Bound Misfit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 05:20 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. As long as he has no tax liens.
:evilgrin:
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Lance_Boyle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 05:28 PM
Response to Original message
3. I will gladly pay you Tuesday for 15 million in credit today...
Pay your tab, dude, and try to be more responsible with your gambling addiction in the future. Jeesh.

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david13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Dude
you are thinking of hamburgers.
dc
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Lance_Boyle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. yes, but
15 million dollars of someone else's money's worth of hamburgers.

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Earth Bound Misfit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. He's lost "in excess of $100 million"
Edited on Fri Feb-06-09 06:12 PM by Earth Bound Misfit
in the last "few years" according to a(n)(anonymous) "knowledgeable source"

This isnt the first time Watanabe has run afoul of the bad check unit.

It opened a criminal investigation against him last year at the request of Green Valley Ranch, which alleged he had failed to pay $1.2 million in gambling markers taken out in October and November of 2007, Zadrowski said. The case, however, was dropped in September after the Henderson casino allowed Watanabe to pay back $790,000 as part of a settlement.

The Bellagio also had asked the district attorney to open a criminal case last year against Watanabe, stemming from a $1.25 million gambling debt, but the charges were dropped in July following an undisclosed settlement, Zadrowski said.


edit to add (anonymous)


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Lance_Boyle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Hope this fool's not too fond of his kneecaps. n/t

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Earth Bound Misfit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-07-09 06:22 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. ROFL...
I'm not actually rolling on the floor, that's what my laugh really sounds like.
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 06:05 PM
Response to Original message
7. You know, you'd think after $10 million they'd quit letting this continue
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Earth Bound Misfit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-06-09 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Casinos are predators...
It's what they do. Do you think they give away all those comps & perks because they like you?
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