New Jersey gambling enforement authorities are investigation allegations that Resorts International - operator of the state's only casino-may have agreed to pay bribes to officials in the United States and Haiti a few years ago in connection with a proposed casino in that Caribbean island nation.
In connection with that investigation, according to sources close to the probe, the state Division of Gambling Enforcement is seeking to interview a secret Justice Department witness who claims to have first-hand knowledge and documentation of Resorts' dealings in Haiti.
The witness is Lucien Rigaud, 42, a fugitive Haitian businessman who for two years was a special representative of Haiti's president, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier.
Rigaud is now residing in Switzerland despite a promise to the Justice Department last September that he would appear here voluntarily in coming months to cooperate in a number of inquiries on federal and state levels.
The allegations of bribery against Resorts are made in documents, FBI reports and interviews which Justice has already made available to New Jersey, according to sources familiar with the material. Allegations of attempted bribery, if substantiated, could cost Resorts a permanent license for its lucrative Atlantic City casino. A spokesman for Resorts denies any bribery.
A New Jersey law enforcement official, who refused to allow use of his name, said yesterday that the Justice Deparment had represented Rigaud as a witness who could substantiate and document the allegations of bribery. Justice Department officials declined to comment.
Rigaud served from 1973 to 1975 as Duvalier's special representative and go-between with Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-Pa). Rigaud's duties included obtaining increased foreign aid for Haiti and promotion of various business investments in that country by American companies.
(Flood is under indictment on 13 counts of bribery, perjury and conspiracy in matters unrelated to Haiti.)
One of the businesses Rigaud and others tried to promote in Haiti was Resorts International, which was attempting to break a gambling monopoly the Duvalier family then had on the island.
The allegations of bribery center on those negotiations, according to sources familiar with the investigative material. The identites of the U.S. and Haitian officials allegedly involved could not be determined.
Rigaud, in telepohne interviews with The Washington Post from Geneva last weekend, said that a contract for the proposed casino was drawn between Resorts and his government. But Rigaud, who says he had Duvalier's power of attorney, refused to sign the documents when they were completed.
"They wanted to create a republic within a republic, where they would have total autonomy . . . their own dingdom," he said. "We are only a country 55 kilometers long and 25 kilometers wide . . . when I read the contract, I said: 'Jesus Christ! This is not possible, they would be another country.'"
Asked in the interview what he knew about allegations of bribery by Resorts, Rigaud said he would "like to reserve comment on the."
Asked in the interview what he knew about allegations of bribery by Resorts, Rigaud said he would "like to reserve comment on that."
Rigaud, in the telephone interview, identified the following people as participating with him in negotiations between the Haitian government and Resorts:
Stephen B. Elko, Flood's former administrative assistant, who is serving three years in federal prison for taking kickbacks in connection with obtaining federal funds for a now-defunct chain of California trade schools.
Ed Dixon, a Pennsylvania businessman from wohm Resorts bought the small island-hopping Chalk International Airlines in Miami after he, Dixon, ran into difficulties with the Internal Revenue Service in the early 1970s.
Dixon, who went to prison for income tax evasion in the early 1970s, is a longtime friend of Flood. Dixon had $14 million worth of federal government contracts to put out coal mine fires in Pennsylvania at the time of his sentencing. Dixon could not be reached for comment.
James M. Crosby, chairman of the board of Resorts International who controls the majority of the voting stock of the own holdings and those of his family.
Robert Peloquin, president of Resorts' security subsidiary, Intertel.
Peloquin has confirmed to The Wshington Post that negotiations with Rigaud took place "three or four years ago" and that Peloquin, Elko, Dixon and Crosby all participated. But Peloquin denies any improprieties.
Peloquin laughed at reports that Rigaud could produce any evidence of bribery.
"I would be absolutely shocked if there were such a thing in existence," he said. Money was never discussed in his presence, Peloquin said, adding: "As for Crosby bribing anyone, he never put a penny into Haiti that I know of, nor did Resorts."
Crosby refused to return telephone calls or allow any Resorts official to comment for him.
Resorts is already under attack in New Jersey by state investigators who said in a recent report that Resorts has already failed to meet the standards for a permanent casino license under the Control Act.
One of the 17 charges already leveled at Resorts is maintaining an unrecorded cash fund rom which it rendered payments to Bahamian public officials in return for what it chooses to describe as "goodwill" treatment in connection with Resorts' casino there.
No mention was made in the report of Resorts' activities in Haiti or the cooperation from federal officials that has been evolving over the past several months.
Resorts denied the charges in the state rport and said ti would disprove them in a January hearing.
Robert Martinez. director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, declined to comment on New Jersey's interest in Rigaud except to address himself to a "hypothetical" discussion of what evidence would be sufficient, in his opinion, to deny any casino a permanent license.
"Bribery need not have actually taken place," Martinez said. "For us, evidence that bribery was contemplated or discussed would be sufficient in an administrative hearing. We don't need to prove what a prosecutor would need to go to a grand jury."
Another source close to the New Jersey investigation says that Crosby's participation in the Haitian negotiations is a key point. "If anybody but Crosby does anything wrong or is labled undesirable," the source says, "Resorts can always purge them and say, 'Now, we're clean.' You can't purge the chairman of the board when he controls the majority of the stock. If Rigaud taints Crosby, Resorts is out."