PALMER, Mass. (WWLP) - The 22News I-Team discovered that the controversy surrounding Peter Picknelly's interest in two casinos is still hotly contested. A lawyer for Northeast Realty, which owns the land in Palmer where Mohegan Sun wants to build a casino says Picknelly and/or Penn National Gaming are not telling the whole truth regarding Picknelly's stake with the Northeast Gaming Group. They dispute the timeline of when Picknelly attempted to get his money out of the Northeast Gaming Group.
The Northeast Gaming Group saw something Penn National's Senior Vice President of Public Relations Eric Schippers said in a live chat on Masslive (Penn National Gaming and Masslive's parent company have a deal in place worth millions of dollars if Penn National is awarded the casino license) and are saying it is not accurate and they are providing the 22News I-Team with the documents to prove it.
In the live chat Schippers, responding to a question about Peter Picknelly's role in Palmer said, "We have thoroughly reviewed the claim and we view it as completely without merit. Our partner Peter Picknelly is 100% committed to Springfield, and cut any ties to Palmer long before we even arrived in Springfield. In my opinion, this amounts to a PR ploy to try to get the Palmer applicants back in the spotlight since so much attention has been paid to Springfield. We're confident this frivolous claim will have zero effect on our exciting plans for Hollywood Casino Springfield."
The portion in bold and that timeline is what Northeast Realty is disputing: In a statement sent to the 22News I-Team it reads:
According to Stephen Spelman, of Egan, Flanagan and Cohen P.C., attorney for Northeast Realty, owners of the property that would host the Mohegan Sun resort in Palmer, "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.
Spelman noted that Penn announced in a press release on October 11, 2012, "Penn National is working in partnership with Peter Picknelly."
Spelman said, however, "Northeast was provided with a document dated November 1, 2012 that was a purported assignment of Mr. Picknelly's shares in the Palmer project to Mr. Getz.
"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.
Spelman adds that legal action may be necessary. Earlier this month, Picknelly sent 22News this statement:
Statement from Peter Picknelly:
"Long before the legislature passed legislation, I did explore an opportunity with Northeast Gaming Group, as did many others. However, when the situation changed, I exercised my right to leave the project. I understand the transformational impact a casino could have on the city that I call home, and where my family has located our business for the past 80 years, and so I wanted to focus my efforts on Springfield.
The facts in this matter are simple. I was only an investor in the Palmer deal. I was never any type of partner or principal in the project nor did I take part in any of their planning. The contract I signed doesn't contain a single word that limits my participation in other business ventures, gaming or otherwise. In any case, and to further ease any concerns, I have since formally terminated my relationship with Northeast Gaming Group and, have transferred any financial interest arising from my investment to a third party.
The legal assertions being made by Northeast Gaming Group are completely frivolous and smack of desperation. These claims are being made by an operator that is on the outside looking in, and whose primary objective is to protect their declining operations in Connecticut by preventing Springfield from hosting a successful casino. Their allegations should be viewed in that context."