LAS VEGAS — Two other men may be on trial here for allegedly kidnaping the daughter of casino mogul Steven A. Wynn, but Irvine real estate broker Spyro Kemble's reputation now is at stake in the case.
A defense attorney has alleged that Kemble, who has not been charged, was a figure in the October kidnaping of Kevin Wynn, 27, who was released unharmed after her father, the chairman of Mirage Resorts Inc., paid a $1.45-million ransom.
Kemble took the witness stand in federal court Monday and denied any involvement in the abduction.
As the trial began last week, defense attorney Don Albregts had implicated Kemble, alleging that he was the man who drove Wynn's daughter to the airport when she was freed. And Albregts said $500,000 of the ransom money was found in Kemble's garage.
But when a prosecutor on Monday asked Kemble if he had any prior knowledge of the kidnaping or any involvement, Kemble replied: "No, I did not."
Composed and looking directly at the jurors, Kemble, 36, said the only thing he could be accused of is being the best friend of Ray Marion Cuddy, who federal prosecutors say orchestrated the kidnaping.
Kemble said that over the years, he had loaned Cuddy money and his credit card, and even shared his home. Kemble testified that after the kidnaping, Cuddy, despite some rough financial times, suddenly was spending cash lavishly, buying a $20,000 watch and trying to buy a $200,000 Ferrari car.
Kemble said Cuddy told him, "Our ship has come in."
Kemble also told the court he had his father, a lawyer in Newport Beach, call the FBI after Cuddy's arrest because he realized that his friend might have placed ransom money in his garage. FBI agents searched his garage after the call and found $500,000 of the ransom in $100 bills stacked in several boxes, Kemble said.
He was questioned by the FBI and prosecutors at least 10 more times, Kemble said, and testified before a federal grand jury investigating the crime. His parents and wife, who have proclaimed Kemble's innocence since Albregts' allegations, sat in the courtroom throughout his several hours on the witness stand.
Cuddy is on trial with Jacob Sherwood, 22, on charges of kidnaping, extortion and money laundering.
A third defendant, Paul Watkins, 20, pleaded guilty to extortion and testified against Cuddy and Sherwood, his longtime friend, last week. In his testimony, Watkins said only he, Cuddy and Sherwood were involved in the kidnaping.
Cuddy was arrested in Newport Beach a few days after the kidnaping as he tried to complete a cash deal on a $200,000 Ferrari.
Much of Kemble's testimony Monday focused on his friendship with Cuddy and how they sometimes loaned each other money, depending on who needed help. The allegations about him driving Kevin Wynn to the airport never came up during the examination by Albregt.
When Cuddy returned to Newport Beach a day after the kidnaping aiming to buy the Ferrari, Kemble said he assumed his friend had settled a large civil lawsuit he had previously discussed.
Kemble testified that he had no idea of Cuddy's alleged involvement in the kidnaping until the day his friend was arrested. Kemble testified that he became curious about boxes Cuddy had been storing at his garage and discovered a stack of cash.
After his arrest, Cuddy called Kemble from jail and apologized for stashing the money in the boxes. Three taped calls between the two men were played in court Monday. "I'm sorry to put it there," Cuddy told Kemble. In one conversation, when Kemble said that he was being questioned by the FBI, Cuddy protested: "You know nothing about nothing."
Mitchell Posin, the lawyer representing Cuddy, said the allegations leveled against Kemble by the other defense lawyer were unexpected and he will not pursue them.
The courtroom allegation also came as a surprise to those who know Kemble.
"It just doesn't seem fair," said Lana Chandler of Newport Beach, who chaired a March of Dimes fund-raiser in which Kemble participated. "He's worked so hard to maintain a good image. . . . All I can say is great things about him."