Hilton Hotels announced Monday the resignations of two senior vice presidents, E. Timothy Applegate and John E. Cullerton, both key figures in the company's Atlantic City casino licensing problems. Applegate also was Hilton's general counsel and Cullerton was in charge of industrial relations.
New Jersey gambling regulators have raised questions about the roles of both men in the hiring and 13-year retention of labor lawyer Sidney Korshak, whom the Justice Department has called a "senior adviser" to organized crime groups.
The Korshak issue was a major reason cited by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in denying Hilton a casino license Feb. 28 for its new $300-million hotel in Atlantic City. The commission has since granted the Los Angeles-based hotel company a rehearing, scheduled to begin next Monday. Meanwhile, the company is negotiating to sell its Atlantic City hotel.
Commissioner Joel Jacobson pointed out at the Feb. 28 meeting of the commission that the record showed that both Applegate and Cullerton knew of Korshak's "negative reputation at the time Korshak was retained by Hilton."
John Giovenco, executive vice president, acknowledged Monday that Hilton was aware that Applegate and Cullerton would have difficulty being licensed by New Jersey authorities, although individuals have not yet been voted on.
The resignations also raised a question about the future of Hilton's casino chief in Las Vegas, Henri Lewin, who has been under considerable fire by the casino commission. Asked Monday about Lewin's status, Giovenco said: "As of this time, the (Hilton) board of directors has neither asked for nor received his resignation."