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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  December 24, 2004
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Park executive said proposed payment to lawyer was a 'bonus'
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Lincoln Park Chief Executive Officer Daniel Bucci told a state lottery regulator he proposed giving the track�s longtime attorney, Daniel McKinnon, a bonus at a 2001 board meeting with the park�s owner.

Bucci last week temporarily stepped down after he was indicted on federal charges of concocting a bribery scheme to win approval of more lottery terminals at the dogtrack and gambling facility. He told state Lottery Director Gerald Aubin a few months after that 2001 board meeting that McKinnon refused to accept the offer.

Neither McKinnon nor his law partner, former House Speaker John Harwood, were charged in the 22-count indictment.

Prosecutors say Bucci and Nigel Potter, chief executive officer of Wembley plc, the track�s London-based owner, discussed paying $4.5 million over six years to McKinnon�s Pawtucket law firm. The scheme was allegedly concocted in 2000 and 2001, when Harwood, a state representative from Pawtucket, was speaker.

Aubin did not immediately return a call to his office on Tuesday. He told The Providence Journal he requested a meeting with Bucci in May 2001, after seeing a news report on a civil suit filed by two former Wembley USA employees. Francis Sherman, president of Wembley USA, and David Brents, the chief financial officer, said they were fired for refusing to carry out the alleged bribery scheme. The two former executives settled their suit in December 2001.

Aubin said the state attorney general�s office approved his meeting with Bucci, during which Aubin kept detailed notes.

Aubin says Bucci told him he was questioned at the January 2001 Wembley board meeting by Sherman about the legality of the proposed payment to McKinnon.

Bucci told Aubin he responded, �Of course it�s legal to give a raise to our attorneys for their hard work and representation,� according to Aubin�s notes from the meeting. Bucci said Lincoln Park had paid $800,000 to McKinnon over a decade.

There was no further discussion of the proposed payment at the board meeting but Bucci said McKinnon later refused to accept any increase.

Aubin�s notes say Bucci asserted: �There was absolutely nothing illegal done, just an attempt to compensate Lincoln�s attorney.�

In a 2002 conversation with Aubin, McKinnon said he never sought a bonus, but acknowledged initially telling Bucci he�d have no problem accepting one.

According to Aubin�s notes, McKinnon said the bonus talks evolved from a conversation that he and Bucci had �one day, some time ago ... about how much had been accomplished� since Bucci was first sent into Lincoln Park �to shut it down.�

Aubin, a former deputy chief of police in Providence, said he routinely keeps notes of important conversations. He said he shared everything Bucci told him with a state police detective and an FBI agent a few days after the 2001 meeting.

Aubin said he also turned over all documents they requested, including correspondence and Lottery meeting minutes.

�I wasn�t satisfied with the explanations at the time,� Aubin said. �Obviously, I realized it needed to be further investigated.�



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