Delaware North is interviewing for a senior communications advisor. They were close to hiring Steve Casey, the former Buffalo deputy mayor, for the job. Before he got the offer, he removed himself from consideration due to the State Attorney General’s investigation into his involvement with G. Steven Pigeon. Pigeon advises Delaware North.
A source close to the firm says that they then moved to another candidate: Chris Grant. The company had settled on hiring him and the HR department was preparing an offer letter for Grant the day the news broke that the FBI and State Police were raiding his house. The Delaware North Human Resources Department scrambled after Casey’s, Pigeon’s and Grant’s homes were searched. The company quickly walked away from its second candidate for the job in trouble with the law.
Three for three.
There are some at the company who are worried there may be a Delaware North connection to the Pigeon scandal. These two false starts to fill a position close to the Jacobs family spooked many.
The family’s patriarch and recently retired CEO, Jeremy Jacobs, was one of Cuomo’s biggest donors. The firm also writes checks to many of the governor’s causes.
“Pigeon is the one who calls Delaware North to collect all that cash for Cuomo,” the source posits speculatively. “Is that what the Feds are really after and why they joined hands with the Attorney General in the raids?”
Early in Cuomo’s first term, the firm heavily financed The Committee to Save New York, which spent millions on pro-Cuomo television spots. In return, Cuomo backed a historic expansion of gambling in the state. He simultaneously allowed Delaware North to operate video slot machines at Hamburg and in the Finger Lakes, which many critics say defrauded the Seneca Nation of exclusivity rights that they had purchased in a 2001 compact with the state.
The firm had recently been in talks with the Cuomo administration to convert the Rainbow Mall in Niagara Falls to an indoor waterpark and luxury hotel. The firm had been asking for tens of millions in gap financing.
To insiders, this sounds like the bad old days of the company, when the firm was still called Emprise and found guilty of federal racketeering in 1972. And after Jeremy Jacobs Sr. took over from his dad Louie, the company was suspected of ties to a 1976 car bomb that killed Arizona investigative journalist Don Bolles. The dying reporter’s last words: “They finally got me. The Mafia. Emprise.”