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Vegas Mogul Pays Ransom for Daughter : Kidnaping: Stephen A. Wynn, owner of Mirage casino, gives abductors $1.4 million after the woman is taken from her home, authorities say. She is returned unharmed.

July 28, 1993|JOSHUA B. GOOD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LAS VEGAS — The 26-year-old daughter of gambling mogul Stephen A. Wynn was kidnaped from her home Monday night and then returned to her family unharmed within several hours after a ransom was paid, authorities said Tuesday.

The amount paid was $1.4 million, according to law enforcement sources in Las Vegas who were familiar with the case.

Investigators gave few details Tuesday on the abduction, but it appeared that Wynn did not notify authorities until he had paid the ransom and was reunited with his daughter, Kevin Q. Wynn.

The 51-year-old Wynn is chairman of Mirage Resorts Inc., which owns the Mirage, Golden Nugget and soon-to-open Treasure Island casinos here and the Golden Nugget in Laughlin, Nev.

Kevin Wynn had arrived alone at her two-bedroom house in the exclusive and gated Spanish Trails country club community about 10 p.m. Monday, according to FBI agents and detectives with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The kidnapers were apparently lying in wait. After they tied up the woman and drove her out of the southwest Las Vegas development, Wynn received a telephone call demanding that he pay more than $2 million for his daughter's safe return, law enforcement sources said.

Wynn reportedly told the abductors he could come up with $1.4 million, most of it from the cash cage at the Mirage. With the payoff settled, Wynn was given instructions to leave the money in a car parked at a local garage, according to a source familiar with the case.

Kevin Wynn was found just after midnight, bound in a car in a parking lot at McCarran International Airport four miles from her home, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Only then did her father notify police, sources said.

"I'm sure it seemed like centuries to her, but the good news is she's back, safe and unharmed," said FBI Special Agent Burk Smith, spokesman for the bureau's Las Vegas office.

An investigator said Wynn said he delayed calling authorities because he has no faith in the local police because of a public battle with Clark County Sheriff John Moran, who oversees the Metro police.

Earlier this year, Wynn filed a $10-million federal civil rights lawsuit against Moran, the Metro police and members of the department's intelligence squad, claiming they had tried to ruin his gaming ventures.

The battle between Moran and Wynn, considered to be two of the most powerful men in Nevada, stemmed from a July, 1991, arrest of a group of Mirage customers with alleged ties to New York's Genovese organized crime family.

The men had been "comped" at the Mirage, meaning that their rooms, meals and drinks were free.

After the arrest of Carmine Russo and Elia Albanese on charges of failing to register as ex-felons during their Las Vegas visit, Metro police revoked the work card of Charles Meyerson, a Mirage employee who took care of the alleged mob associates while they stayed at the Strip hotel.

The Mirage guests were arrested at McCarran Airport as a Las Vegas television news crew, invited along by police, filmed their apprehension.

Wynn dubbed the arrests a publicity stunt and claimed he and Meyerson didn't know of the men's alleged mob connections. Meyerson's permission to work in the casino was later restored by a Clark County hearing officer.

This year, Kenneth Wynn, Steve Wynn's brother, was caught up in a marijuana investigation spearheaded by Metro's intelligence unit.

Kenneth Wynn was never arrested but last week he settled the issue with the state Gaming Control Board by agreeing to a one-year gaming license suspension, a $10,000 fine and random drug testing. Kenneth Wynn, 40, is head of Atlandia Design, a subsidiary of Mirage Resorts.

Agents from the FBI and detectives with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department are investigating the kidnaping. Metro has assigned 10 detectives to the case and the FBI is said to have about the same number of agents investigating, according to Metro Deputy Chief John Sullivan.

Larry Burtman, chief of the 32-person security force at Spanish Trails, said none of his guards on duty saw anything unusual. He would not speculate how the kidnapers got in the gated community but said it would be relatively easy.

"There (is) more than one way to get in," Burtman said. "They could climb over a wall. This place is not a high-security prison."

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