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Sanborn Gets Delay in Casino Corruption Case

You can’t beat the house, so former state Sen. Andy Sanborn is going to court for better odds.

Sanborn, the controversial Bedford Republican and owner of the Concord Casino, filed a lawsuit late last week to stop the New Hampshire Lottery Commission’s hearing into allegations he is unfit to hold a casino license. Sanborn is accused of misusing $844,000 in COVID relief money.

Sanborn claims he did nothing wrong. But court documents show a state audit found he allegedly overpaid himself hundreds of thousands in rent, bought sports cars for himself and his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford), and used the federal funding to plan a new casino. State officials call it an “airtight case,” according to court records.

Sanborn asked Judge Martin Honigberg in Merrimack Superior Court to set the Lottery Commission hearing for December once his lawyers have had time to go through the evidence. 

“Defendants have violated Plaintiff’s due process rights by refusing to allow Plaintiffs time to prepare for a hearing and refusing to allow an impartial adjudicator to preside over the proceedings,” Sanborn’s lawsuit states.

Sanborn additionally wants Lottery Commission Chair Deborah Douglas removed from the case, claiming she has prejudged his case. He is asking to have an independent presiding officer appointed and to be reimbursed for his attorney fees.

Honigberg granted Sanborn an emergency temporary restraining order delaying the planned Oct. 13 Lottery Commission hearing, but the judge did not make any rulings on the complaint’s merits. The state and Sanborn are now due in the Concord court on Oct. 20 to argue when the commission hearing should occur.

A state audit detected the alleged COVID relief fraud in May 2022. Court records indicate concerns about Sunburn go back further. The previous year’s audit found problems with the casino’s record-keeping and internal financial controls. According to court records, both Laurie and Andy Sanborn had been disciplined and fined by the commission for breaking state casino rules.

Along with two Porsches and a Ferrari allegedly bought with COVID money, the May 2022 audit found Sanborn was paying himself rent for the casino. While the casino is owned through Sanborn’s Win, Win, Win LLC, the Main Street property in Concord is owned by another Sanborn LLC, The Best Revenge LLC.

The lease agreement between Best Revenge and Win, Win, Win has the casino pay the property $6,000 a year in rent, paid out at $500 a month. According to the audit, Sanborn wired $163,500 from Win, Win, Win to Best Revenge between January and August 2022 to cover the rent. 

That was more than $20,000 a month for the $500 a month rent. To put it another way, Sanborn paid himself for more than 27 years of rent in eight months.

According to the audit, Sanborn’s casino was losing money, and the business was down to a little more than $900 available cash before the COVID relief money came through.

Sanborn disputes those facts, claiming the audit looked at the wrong accounts and he had about $150,000 available. He states that while the business lost money in 2020, things had picked up in 2021. Sanborn claims the casino generates $400,000 a month in revenue.

The commission had concerns about Sanborn before the May 2022 audit. Records show his suitability to hold a casino license was being questioned. The commission worried about his stint as a state senator when crude jokes resulted in allegations of sexual harassment in 2013 and an investigation into a bribe to hush up a witness in 2018.

Sanborn was cleared of the bribery accusation and acknowledged making a crude joke in front of an intern. While the exact joke has not been disclosed, records indicate he was discussing oral sex. One woman told investigators she was warned not to be alone with Sanborn when she started her job in the State House.

The commission was also concerned about the lawsuit brought by creditors in his business bankruptcy filing. Sanborn filed for bankruptcy in 2004 as his business, Brannigan’s Cycleworks, was failing. According to court records, he was sued by creditors who accused him of moving money ahead of the bankruptcy.

Sanborn first got the casino license in 2018 and was up for renewal when the alleged fraud was found.

Laurie Sanborn was forced to step down as chair of the new state gambling commission after New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced the fraud allegations against her husband in September.

Formella is investigating both Andy and Laurie Sanborn. He has also referred the case to federal prosecutors.

Sanborn Gambles with Casino Hearing

Casino operator Andy Sanborn wants to take his chances in front of the state Lottery Commission, but his odds aren’t looking good.

The former GOP state senator has decided to publicly challenge charges that he stole COVID relief money and used the cash for sports carts and other luxuries.

Sanborn is set to appear before the New Hampshire Lottery Commission on Oct. 3 to appeal Executive Director Charlie McIntyre’s decision that he is too corrupt to own and operate a casino in the Granite State. Concord recently approved a second casino and a microbrewery, which were part of a planned Sanborn development.

But now the scandal-plagued Republican may lose his license to operate a gambling business altogether.

Sanborn is accused of misappropriating $844,000 in pandemic relief tax dollars while operating a casino at his Draft Sports Bar and Grill, which he owns along with his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford). The allegations against her business partner forced her to give up her position as chair of the state’s new commission reviewing practices in the charitable gaming industry.

McIntyre sent Sanborn a letter on Aug. 31 laying out the findings of the commission’s investigation. According to a statement released by Attorney General John Formella, Sanborn “fraudulently applied for and received at least one Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), with loan proceeds of $844,000. Further, investigators obtained evidence indicating that after receiving those taxpayer dollars, Mr. Sanborn used them to purchase at least three race cars: two Porsche 987 Cayman S racers for his personal use, and a Ferrari F430 challenge racer as a gift for his wife, Rep. Laurie Sanborn.”

Sanborn also allegedly used COVID money to make 27 years’ worth of prepaid rent payments on another business he owns.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are now looking into Sanborn’s practices. According to Formella’s statement, that includes “a review by the Public Integrity Unit of the actions of all of the individuals and entities involved.” That would presumably include Laurie Sanborn.

Andy Sanborn’s checkered political career includes a bribery investigation after he allegedly made a “crude joke” to a Senate intern in 2013. After the joke was made, the exact nature of which has never been revealed, the intern was given a full-time job in the Senate and an envelope with $200 in cash.

Five years later, an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office did not result in any charges, and Sanborn denied any wrongdoing.

“No one in the room was offended by the joke,” Sanborn said in 2018. “No complaint was filed. Case closed. If that’s news, so be it.”

Sanborn threatened a college student in 2014 via email after the student, one of Sanborn’s constituents, sent an email asking Sanborn to support marijuana legalization. A clearly irked Sanborn called the student “a college freshman who just wants to get high at any cost” and implied he would get the student’s scholarship revoked.

“I’m thinking if I call the [organization you received a scholarship from] and ask their opinion on legalization, they may have a different opinion (not to mention may be asking you for their scholarship money back…).” Sanborn wrote.

Sanborn made a failed bid for Congress in 2018 after serving in the state Senate for eight years. 

Fox, Meet Hen House? Casino Owner Tapped to Chair Charitable Gaming Commission

Is the state’s new commission studying the charitable gaming industry dealing from the bottom of the deck?

The new state budget that took effect in July created the Commission To Study The Effect Of Recent Changes Made To Charitable Gaming Laws, which held its first meeting Monday morning. Eyebrows were raised when the commission picked Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford) as its chair, despite her and her husband operating the Concord Casino since 2018.

“I think Laurie’s a lovely person, but I don’t think she’s the right person to lead this commission,” commission member Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester) told NHJournal. Though he could not attend its first meeting, he said he urged other members to take actions that would be viewed as fair and transparent to the public.

“It should not be chaired by a player in the gaming industry,” D’Allesandro said.

Unlike nearly every New Hampshire state government public hearing, the commission’s meeting was not broadcast on streaming video.

Sanborn did not respond to a request for comment.

Commission member Rep. Fred Doucette (R-Salem) nominated Sanborn for the chair. She sees no problem overseeing a commission that is expected to propose changes to the gambling industry, even with her stake in the casino.

“Anything can seem like a conflict of interest depending on how you look at it,” Doucette said.

He said Sanborn brings an insider’s perspective about the casino business to her role, which will be an asset to the commission. Other legislative committees and commissions include members and chairs involved in the industries they oversee, he said.

“We’re a volunteer legislature, and we have to draw from the knowledge and expertise we have at hand,” Doucette said.

Sen. Tim Lang (R-Sanborton), another commission member, told NHJournal that Sanborn declared her conflict before being nominated, as House rules require. Lang said Sanborn got on the commission in the first place because House Speaker Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry) appointed her.

“The speaker knew Laurie’s background and chose to appoint her to the commission,” Lang said.

Packard did not respond to a request for comment.

Other members of the commission:

  • Attorney General John Formella
  • Rep. John Janigian (R-Salem)
  • Rep. Benjamin Baroody (D-Manchester)
  • Rep. Richard Ames (D-Jaffrey)
  • NH Lottery Director Charles McIntyre
  • Aaron Gomes, COO Peninsula Pacific Entertainment
  • Norman Roberge, treasurer of the Concord Lions Club
  • Giovanna Bonilla, director of events and partnerships with the Boston Billiards Club and Casino

New Hampshire allows casinos under its charitable gaming rules which limits how much players can bet and requires casinos to donate 35 percent of the house take to New Hampshire charities. The state keeps 10 percent of the revenue.

The state raised the limit on maximum single-play bets from $10 to $50 in this year’s budget as part of legislation that created the study commission. The commission will look at issues that could impact casino operations and how much charitable groups can expect in donations.

And because state revenues are at stake, some people who attended Monday’s meeting raised questions about who, if anyone, would be advocating on behalf of the taxpayers.

“I saw the casinos and I saw the charities, this is their commission. But where were the taxpayers? ” one person in attendance who asked to speak on background told NHJournal.

The commission is also expected to review the rent charities pay to the operators’ establishments that house them. This rent payment can lower the charity’s take, reducing the amount of charitable donations. Concord Casino is located in The Draft Sports Bar, also owned by the Sanborns. According to records filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office, the Draft and Concord Casino are separate business entities.

The commission is also tasked with studying how licenses are issued in the state. The commission could recommend limiting new licenses in municipalities where there are already casinos. Andy Sanborn recently won approval from the city of Concord for a new, large-scale, 43,000-square-foot casino, called Image Casino, to be located at the end of Loudon Road.

Former Rep. Edward “Ned” Gordon (R-Bristol), who still chairs the Legislative Ethics Committee, would not comment on Sanborn’s chairmanship. The Legislative Ethics Committee only gets involved in issues where a complaint is filed.

“The Ethics Committee is not a police force,” he said.

New Hampshire has different ethical standards for different types of officials. For example, someone in the executive branch is barred from overseeing an industry in which they or a spouse has a financial interest. And under rules for the judiciary, judges must recuse themselves from cases in which they or their spouses could benefit.

However, Laurie Sanborn’s leadership of the study commission does not necessarily violate House rules for legislators. The rules require legislators to file a declaration of intent when there is a conflict of interest. Those declarations must state the nature of the conflict and whether or not the lawmaker plans to vote anyway. Declarations can also be made verbally at meetings.

D’Allesandro said the current standard simply is not good enough.

“If your husband owns a casino, or you and your husband own a casino, that’s a conflict of interest,” D’Allesandro said.

Gordon tried and failed to get the conflict of interest rules changed for legislators. He sponsored 2020’s HB 1694, which would have forced legislators to recuse themselves where there is a conflict of interest similar to the Sanborn’s. Gordon’s bill died in the Senate.

The Image Casino proposal is now the subject of a lawsuit. A dozen city residents filed an appeal in the Merrimack Superior Court of the city Planning Board’s approval for the casino. The appeal claims the Planning Board voted to approve the project without proper public notice.

Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 “Tribe” Troubles Don’t End With DNA Debacle

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s struggles to overcome the impact of her unproven—and likely incorrect—claims of Native American ancestry are well known. This week the New York Times reported that Warren and her close aides are finally realizing what many political observers have long known, that her strategy to use a DNA test to resolve the controversy was a fiasco.

But Warren’s been working on another effort to burnish her Native American bona fides that could be just as problematic: H­­elping the Massachusetts-based Mashpee Wampanoag tribe secure a $1 billion casino project in southeastern Massachusetts. As a result, Warren is making a strange bedfellow of a scandal-plagued, billion-dollar multi-national corporation–exactly the sort of company she has railed against at an outspoken economic populist.


When the Pilgrims first landed, it was on Wampanoag land.  The tribe counts Crispus Attucks among their members —the first person killed in the Boston Massacre and, therefore, America’s struggle for independence.  The Mashpee Wampanoags have a long history in the story of America’s founding.

What they don’t have, alas, is a long history as a federally-recognized tribe.  They didn’t get that designation until 2007, and only after paying tens of thousands of dollars to corrupt DC lobbyist “Casino Jack” Abramoff, who would eventually go to prison over conspiracy and fraud charges related to his work with various Indian tribes.

Soon after, the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe who worked with Abramoff, Glenn Marshall, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for crimes he committed “in connection with efforts to secure federal recognition for the Tribe,” according to the FBI.

And this is the tribe that Liz Warren is working so hard to help get into the casino business. She’s pushing legislation to override a federal court ruling and Department of Interior finding that, under federal law, the federal government doesn’t have the power to set aside land for them as “sovereign territory”—which is what they need for prime casino territory.

Their problem is that under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the tribe needed federal recognition when the law was passed to be eligible–a requirement upheld by the US Supreme Court as recently as 2009. The Mashpee Wampanoags were 73 years too late.

But that didn’t stop the Obama administration from taking 321 acres in Mashpee and Taunton, MA into trust in 2015 and declaring it a sovereign reservation.  And with that designation, the Mashpee Wampanoags entered an agreement to build and operate a $1 billion casino complex with the multi-billion-dollar international gaming firm Genting Malaysia Berhad.


Artist rendering of proposed Mashpee Wampanoag/Genting casino in Massachusetts


How did the Obama administration get around the law? That’s precisely the question residents of Taunton, MA—who weren’t too keen on a casino coming to their small community—started asking. They sued in federal district court, which led to the rulings blocking the Mashpee project.

Enter Elizabeth Warren, who, as recently as 2014, opposed casino gambling entirely. “People need jobs, but gambling can also be a real problem economically for a lot of people,” Warren said. But now she’s stepped up as a champion for the tribe and its casino. And, unavoidably, the scandal-plagued company behind it.

Sen. Warren claims the Mashpee’s cause is a fight for social justice:

“The decision by the Trump Administration to move forward with denying the Mashpee Wampanoag a right to their ancestral homeland and to keep their reservation is an injustice,” Warren said in a statement released to InsideSources. “The Trump Administration’s action is yet another instance of the federal government reneging on a deal with Native Americans, and it underscores why Congress must pass our legislation: so that the Mashpee Wampanoag do not lose their home at the hands of the federal government.”

In fact, the people most desperate to see Warren’s legislation passed are the stockholders of Genting Malaysia Berhad.

“Liz Warren, Champion of Scandal-Plagued Billion-Dollar Corporations!”

Genting has a troubled background, to say the least.  It’s currently at the center of an investigation into a massive kickback scheme that helped bring down the previous Malaysian government. They’re also involved in a billion-dollar lawsuit against Disney and Fox Entertainment over another failed casino project.

Since entering their agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoags, Genting has poured around $440 million in the tribe’s coffers on the promise of a 49.4 percent ownership stake in that Taunton casino.  And now, it appears, the Malaysian company is ready to write the investment off and walk away.

In a financial report issued last week, Genting announced a third-quarter loss, which they said was “related mainly to the impairment loss of RM1,834.3 million [$438 million USD] on… promissory notes issued by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.”

“However, Genting Malaysia Berhad Group continues to work closely with the Tribe on options which include legislation being introduced in the US Congress which, if passed, will entail the US Federal Government to reaffirm the land in trust for the benefit of the Tribe.” [emphasis added]

“This impairment loss can be reversed when the Notes are assessed to be recoverable,” the report says.

And “reversing that impairment loss” is where Elizabeth Warren comes in. Her “Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act” would overturn court rulings and allow the federal government to create a new reservation.  If the effort succeeds, the Mashpee Wampanoags will be happy. But Genting Malaysia—on the hook for nearly half a billion dollars—will be ecstatic.

Sen. Warren isn’t alone in this fight, of course. Her fellow Massachusetts Democrats, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Bill Keating are on board as well, and there is some bipartisan support in Congress.

But “Liz Warren, Champion of Scandal-Plagued Billion-Dollar Corporations!” isn’t exactly the image she has cultivated in American politics. In fact, it stands in stark contrast to her rhetoric of economic populism.  Why would Warren be willing to fight so hard to rescue half a billion dollars of Genting Malaysia’s money?

Warren declined repeated requests from InsideSources for comment, but the thinking is that it’s part of her broader, ongoing efforts to repair the damage done by her mishandling of the Native American issue. CNN reports that Warren “has quietly waged a months-long, behind-the-scenes effort to put ‘Pocahontas’ in the past.”

In March she gave a speech to the National Congress of American Indians defending her claims to Native American ancestry and declaring herself an ally. “For far too long, your story has been pushed aside, to be trotted out only in cartoons and commercials,” Warren said. “Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities,” she told the group.

Warren insists she’s always been a champion of Native American issues, telling the Boston Globe: “I work on these issues,” said Warren. “I meet with tribal leaders. I attend events. I speak. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to speak out. And I’ve tried to be helpful.”Now that the DNA test stunt has blown up in her face, can Warren afford to step away from a Native American cause, even if the result is a $440 million boon to a troubled multinational corporation?

Perhaps a bigger question is whether the Mashpee Wampanoags still want her?  Warren’s standing as a potential 2020 candidate has steadily fallen in recent weeks, and she hasn’t had a positive news cycle in a long while.

An industry source who is following the issue tells InsideSources: “The tribe and the bill’s supporters have apparently realized she has become a liability to their effort.  The strategy may be to have Warren drop off the existing legislation, or not sign on as a co-sponsor, when it’s reintroduced in the next Congress ”

Even the liberal Boston Globe, long an ally that has worked hard to spin the “Pocahontas” story in Warren’s favor, editorialized this week that she should drop out of the 2020 presidential race altogether.

“Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020,” the Globe editorialized. “While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure.”

What Liz Warren needs to divide are her efforts for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe from the international gaming conglomerate that stands to gain so much if she succeeds.