Ex-MGM Grand Boss Gets Lenient Sentence for Bank Secrecy Act Violation

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In the bustling heart of downtown Los Angeles, a federal judge handed down an unusually lenient sentence for Scott Sibella, the former grand overseer of the renowned MGM Grand and Resorts World in Las Vegas. Orderly duties faded into Wednesday’s shadows as a quiet hush fell over the Central District Court of California. The sentence— one year’s probation, a $9,500 fine, and an additional $100 special assessment— was considerably lighter than anticipated.

Earlier in the year, Sibella had entered a guilty plea to a charge of violating the federal Bank Secrecy Act, an established law designed to stem the tide of money laundering within financial institutions. This professional misstep, once foreign to Sibella, took place between August 2017 and February 2019, while he was still at the helm of the MGM Grand Las Vegas as President and COO.

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Sibella stood accused of failing to file suspicious-transaction reports, a requirement that casinos must adhere to under the Bank Secrecy Act. The red flags? Millions of dollars wagered by one Wayne Nix, former minor-league baseball player and known operator of an illegal sports-betting operation. Sibella was well-acquainted with Nix.

From 2019 until 2023, Sibella wore the mantle of Resorts World president until the company terminated his employment on grounds of an unspecified violation of his contract. Come January 2022, Sibella conceded to federal investigators the puzzled bewilderment that led to his disregard of legalities, acknowledging his inability to understand the source of Nix’s abundant gambling funds.

Currently awaiting sentencing after his own guilty plea in April 2022, Nix finds himself under federal scrutiny for running an illegal gambling operation and processing a fraudulent tax return from his home in Newport Coast, California.

Despite the prospect of a $250,000 fine and a long five years’ stretch in prison, Sibella’s defense attorneys pulled levers for leniency. Letters of support from noted figures such as Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill served as a plea for probation. The Probation Office did not shy away from recognizing Sibella’s acceptance of guilt, further mitigating the charges with the consideration of his age— 61 years.

After Sibella’s guilty plea, a ripple effect ensued. The MGM Grand and Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas agreed to a hefty $7.45 million settlement in a related US Justice Department investigation, also committing to enhance compliance programs and submitting themselves to external reviews.

Adding to the former MGM president’s woes, casino regulators in Nevada are mulling over the potential revocation or suspension of Sibella’s state gambling license. Their deliberations include a possible fine of up to $750,000 for his transgressions. The sharp bite of the state Gaming Control Board intervention was felt on April 30, although the Nevada Gaming Commission has yet to make a final decision.

Sibella, who had also held senior positions at The Mirage and Treasure Island before his tenure at the MGM Grand in 2011, is now represented by Los Angeles-based attorney Jeffrey Rutherford and Las Vegas’ own John Spilotro— whose name is sure to ring with familiarity to anyone versed in the history of Las Vegas. After all, Spilotro carries the infamous legacy of his murdered mafia boss uncle, Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro, within his surname.