|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD Is he or isn't he?
Whether or not Peter Picknelly is still part of the Mohegan Sun casino project in Palmer is a controversy that hasn't been settled as yet, according to the attorney representing Northeast Reality, the landowner of the casino site.
Attorney Stephen Spelman explained to Reminder Publications that state law prohibits someone from being invested in more than one casino project and that Picknelly is still part of the Mohegan Sun project.
Spelman is hoping the issue can be settled without going to court and said that ideally Picknelly should withdraw his financial interest in the Penn National Gaming proposal for the North End of Springfield and live up to his legal obligations with Northeast Reality.
Earlier this year, Picknelly told Reminder Publications that he was no longer associated with Northeast Reality.
At the kick-off event for Penn's Hollywood Casino, Picknelly described himself as in a "50/50" partnership with Penn in the proposed casino that would be located primarily on the present sites of Picknelly's Peter Pan Bus terminal and The Republican building.
Spelman said Northeast Reality has trouble with the timeline in this story. He noted that Penn announced in a press release on Oct. 11, 2012, "Penn National is working in partnership with Peter Picknelly."
Spelman said that Picknelly assigned his interest to "a close business associate," Malcolm Getz Jr.
He explained, "Northeast was provided with a document dated Nov. 1, 2012 that was a purported assignment of Mr. Picknelly's shares in the Palmer project to Mr. Getz."
Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations made a comment on Masslive that Picknelly "cut any ties to Palmer long before we even arrived in Springfield."
The document in question is dated Nov. 1, 2012, but states that on Aug. 7 and Aug. 21, Picknelly told Northeast Gaming Group (Northeast Reality) "that he would be pursuing a casino license in Springfield and therefore had disassociated himself from Northeast Gaming Group Inc. altogether."
The document states he had assigned "right, title and interest to the revenue sharing agreement" with Northeast to Getz.
Spelman said, "The notion that Mr. Picknelly has cut ties to Palmer defies belief when in fact he has simply attempted to transfer his interest to a close business associate, Mr. Malcolm C. Getz Jr. Mr. Picknelly has close ties to Mr. Getz through his longtime business relationship with him. Mr. Getz has served as a senior executive at the Picknelly-owned gun distribution company Camfour, located in Westfield."
According to documents filed with the Secretary of State in 2011, Getz is the treasurer of Camfour Holding Inc. and Picknelly is the president.
He added, "Mr. Picknelly would like the public to believe that he has cut all ties with the Palmer project by attempting to assign his shares to a close associate. Mr. Schippers would like the public to believe that Mr. Picknelly cut those ties in advance of his partnership with Penn. Their own documents show these assertions are not true. I have advised Mr. Picknelly's counsel that the purported assignment is of no force and effect. We will continue to explore every avenue to resolve Mr. Picknelly's ongoing conflict of interest to Northeast's satisfaction, including legal action."
Spelman would not speculate on how this unresolved issue would affect Penn's situation in the Springfield casino selection process.
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