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Former casino counsel files whistleblower suit

Loretta Pickus claims she was fired for raising alarms over false meeting minutes

By Nikita Biryukov, September 22 2020 10:57 am

A former casino general counsel sued Luxor Capital Group’s Ocean Casino Resort Tuesday, alleging she was wrongfully terminated after blowing the whistle on inaccurate minutes submitted to the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Loretta Pickus, who was a senior vice president and general counsel for the Ocean Casino Resort, charges she was fired for blowing the whistle after the casino’s audit committee allegedly filed inaccurate minutes related to the hiring of a new director of surveillance during a January 2019 meeting.

The suit, filed in Atlantic County, claims the firm’s Audit Committee lied about appointing a new director of surveillance in July 2019 meeting minutes.

Pickus attended the July 18, 2019, meeting and said in the suit that the Audit Committee falsely claimed that the casino did not consult them about the hiring of the new surveillance director after receiving reports of deficiencies under the new director.

That wasn’t discussed during the meeting, she said.

Pickus provided a separate set of minutes to the Division of Gaming Enforcement after it launched an investigation into committee’s response. The suit claims the episode soured Pickus’ relationship with the Audit Committee.

After the former general counsel told members of the committee, their relationship soured.

“Bottom line, we now have a toxic relationship with Loretta,” Audit Committee Chairman Cory Morowitz wrote in an Aug. 22, 2019, email.

The suit goes on to claim that Division of Gaming Director David Rebuck lied about Pickus’ complaints because he was a personal friend of Audit Committee member Frederick DeVesa.

Rebuck claimed the director of surveillance was hired on a temporary basis, citing minutes from January 2019 minutes. He said the new director was “just filling in,” though the minutes say the new director was “filling the role of previous Director of Surveillance.”

The gaming enforcement official also charged Pickus’ bid to oust Morowitz from the board was an effort to retaliate against him for participating in the Division of Gaming Enforcement’s investigation into the July minutes.

Then, the suit claims, at a meeting between Rebuck and casino officials that the Division of Gaming director allegedly asked Pickus be excluded from, Rebuck said holdovers from the casino’s previous ownership should be removed.

“There are people you shouldn’t have in your organization. They are hold overs. They need to go,” Rebuck allegedly said to the casino’s owners. “Call me later as I do not want to name them here.”

Pickus worked for the casino when it was owned by Revel and was the only remaining member of previous management, the suit says.

Then, Pickus was fired after making a presentation to the Audit Committee this January asking that it correct its July 2019 minutes.

“Because of the unjust and inappropriate decisions of these Luxor Group officials, my career and excellent reputation have been severely harmed,” said Pickus. “Our team was like a family to me, so this has been a profoundly distressing and hurtful experience — particularly given that they acted quickly to replace me with a male attorney with less industry experience.”

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