LAS VEGAS (CN) – A powerful Nevada lobbyist, developer, businessman and lawyer embezzled “tens of millions of dollars” from his former business partners, the partners claim in Clark County Court.
Wingfield Nevada Group Holding Co. claims F. Harvey Whittemore blew company money to bankroll a “lavish and upscale lifestyle including exotic vacations and substantial jewelry purchases.”
They claim, among other things, that Whittemore spent “unauthorized expenses” of $2.1 million on private jets, $200,000 for his daughter’s wedding, another $372,000 on lavish banquets, raised his own salary to $900,000, and took $586,000 in “purported … reimbursements” for “business entertainment,” for which he did not provide accounting.
Whittemore and his wife, Annette, also a defendant, denied the allegations, telling the Reno Gazette-Journal, “We will take any and all steps necessary to preserve the reputation for integrity that we have built in this state for over 40 years.”
The Lakeshore House Limited Partnership (LHLP) also is named as a defendant.
“This is a case involving the misappropriation, breach of fiduciary duties and embezzlement of tens of millions of dollars,” the complaint states. “Acting as a manager of Wingfield, Whittemore has admitted and confessed to engaging in over 20 different transactions designed to deplete Wingfield of its assets for the sole purposes of enhancing and promoting Whittemore’s financial condition and to further his standing in the political community of Nevada. By engaging in misappropriation of corporate assets, by misusing and exploiting corporate assets, by failing to document corporate and personal transactions, by discouraging employees from disclosing key facts to the other Wingfield owners, and by using the bank accounts of Wingfield for personal purposes, Whittemore has breached his fiduciary duties to Wingfield and its owners, has committed a series of fraudulent transactions designed to financially harm plaintiffs, and has conspired to use Wingfield improperly and illegally to advance his personal and financial interests.”
According to the complaint, in 2004 Whittemore and LHLP, then owned by the Whittemore family, sold 50 percent interest in at least six of their companies to Thomas Seeno’s company, TNSS, and/or to the Thomas and Norine Seeno Living Trust.
In 2005, Whittemore, LHLP and TNSS “agreed to transfer all of their ownership interests in certain of these entities to the new combined entity of Wingfield,” according to the complaint. Wingfield then became sole or majority owner of, among others, Coyote Springs Investment, Red Hawk Land Co., Western Electronics, and Wingfield Springs Realty, the complaint states.
Whittemore and Seeno were the managers, it states. In 2007, Albert D. Seeno Jr. bought part of Whittemore’s interest, the complaint states, and his company, Alsan, “became a member of Wingfield.”
In 2010, the Seenos say, they began “noticing discrepancies in Wingfield’s financial books and records,” which included “concerns about amounts charged to Wingfield accounts, material items not disclosed, debts that were written off, undervaluation of liabilities and a number of other expenditures that had not received approval from nor been disclosed to the Seenos.”
The Seenos say their investigation was “thwarted” by “incomplete or inaccurate accounting and business records” and Whittemore’s “lack of cooperation.”
Eventually, however, the Seenos say, Whittemore “admitted and confessed to engaging in over 20 different transactions designed to deplete Wingfield of its assets for the sole purposes of enhancing and promoting Whittemore’s financial condition and to further his standing in the political community of Nevada.”
The parent company developed master-planned communities, including Coyote Springs in Southern Nevada and Wingfield Springs in the north.
The Seenos also are part owners of Peppermill Casino, which calls itself the largest privately owned gaming company in Nevada, with several casinos and hotels throughout the state.
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duties, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy, breach of contract, breach of faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, conversion, and intentional interference with economic advantage.
They are represented by James Pisanellli with Pisanelli Bice.