Terry Watanabe Cuts Deal In Gambling Lawsuit

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Dramatic developments were announced Thursday in a Las Vegas courtroom in the criminal case against Terry Watanabe, Omaha philanthropist and former owner of Oriental Trading Company.

Criminal charges are dropped against Watanabe and civil lawsuits have been stopped dead in their tracks.

Harrah's Entertainment had accused Watanabe of failing to pay $14.75 million in gambling debts that he ran up in Las Vegas casinos.

Following the complaint, prosecutors in Clark County, Nevada filed criminal charges against Watanabe that could have put him in prison for 28 years.

Watanabe filed a civil suit against Harrah's Entertainment in which he alleged Harrah's employees had supplied him with liquor and prescription painkillers while he lost tens of millions of dollars. In court papers Watanabe said he had lost nearly $190 million.

But it all ended when Clark County District Court Judge Donald Mosley on Thursday accepted a confidential deal between a prosecutor and lawyers for 53-year-old Watanabe. Trial had been set for next week.

Attorney Pierce O'Donnell says Watanabe didn't intend to defraud Caesars Palace and the Rio hotel-casino or their corporate owner, Harrah's Entertainment.

Watanabe agreed to drop civil lawsuits against Harrah's, and Harrah's agreed to freeze counterclaims pending binding arbitration.

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