By the skin of my teeth...Escaping Steve Wynn’s legal ax

COLUMN: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
August 2, 2000

In 1994, a photocopied 113 page Scotland Yard confidential report on Steve Wynn was mailed to two journalists in Nevada. Review Journal columnist John L. Smith received one set, I received the other.

After reading the report, I immediately called Scotland Yard and asked to speak to Inspector Sparks, one of the authors of the report. He did not agree to speak to me. I ask his secretary if she had knowledge of the report and she would not confirm or deny its existence.

I began contacting local writers and reporters to inquire whether they had also received the same package. After a dozen or so inquires, I was informed by John Smith that he had received the report the same week that it was mailed to me. We both confirmed to the best of our knowledge that no other writer or reporter we had spoken to had been sent a copy. We both wondered why we had been the only ones selected?

John and I speculated that we were probably chosen because both of us had been involved in investigative reports on Steve Wynn.

I had featured John Smith on my national radio program in 1993 to report on a story about the Mirage comping members of the "five families." My reporting of this incident cost me my radio program and inspired a threatened lawsuit by Wynn. He told reporters at the Hartford Courant and Bridgeport Post that I had been responsible for killing his Connecticut casino plan because of my radio stories. He wanted the stories to cease immediately.

Undaunted, I began contacting literary agents to inquire as to whether there would be interest in a book I would author about the Scotland Yard Report. I found little interest.

I was also mysteriously contacted by an investigator for the New Jersey Gaming Control Board who inquired if I had a copy of the report. I replied that I did and he asked me if it had a Control Board time stamp on its cover. It did not. He abruptly ended the call. John and I later speculated that his call indicated that the original report in the New Jersey Gaming Control Board file was probably missing and that the copies we had were probably made from that document.

The call also confirmed the authenticity of the document.

Several weeks later John L. told me that he had almost completed a book based on some of the information contained in the report. I immediately lost my ambition to be an author. Now, six years later, John Smith is embroiled in a foul libel lawsuit.

Because of my acute interest in First Amendment issues I attended the seven-day trial in 1998. I was relieved when Smith was dropped from the suit but I am now very concerned about his welfare since Wynn is trying to get the Nevada Supreme Court to reinstate him in the case.

I was also extremely concerned when Smith's testimony was interrupted during the trial by Judge Sally Loehrer to allow Wynn's character witnesses Governor Bob Miller and Mayor Jan Jones to testify at their convenience. Judge Loehrer's reason for suddenly interrupting Smith's testimony in midstream was that Mayor Jones had suspended her vacation to testify and needed to make a flight. Smith later told me that he regretted complying with the judge's uncommon request.

Fortunately the Nevada Press Association has come to John's, and the First Amendment's, defense. The Association has filed Friend of the Court briefs with the Nevada Supreme Court in support of Mr. Smith.

I could only imagine what would have happened to me if I had been the one to author the unflattering story of Mr. Wynn?

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