Sibella gets probation, fine for violating anti-money laundering law at MGM Grand

By: - May 8, 2024 3:37 pm
Scott Sibella

Scott Sibella, former president and COO of the MGM Grand, pictured here at a 2017 press conference. (Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau)

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Scott Sibella, the former president of MGM Grand and Resorts World Las Vegas, to one year of probation and a fine of $9,500 for violating a federal law requiring casinos to know the source of their customer’s funds and file a suspicious activity report. 

Sibella maintains he did nothing that benefited him personally. 

“I was charged from the very beginning for not filing a SAR, accepted a plea, and have taken full and complete responsibility for what I did,” Sibella said in a statement distributed shortly after the sentencing by his attorney John Spilotro. “I want to reiterate that by, anything alleged, I gained no benefit – neither personal, professional or financial.”

Sibella said he’s “relieved to have this matter concluded and accept the terms imposed today by the court. As I have said throughout this investigation, I regret the pain this has caused my friends and family and am extremely grateful for those who chose to stand with me throughout these difficult times.”

Sibella entered a guilty plea in January for allowing illegal bookmaker Wayne Nix to pay a $120,000 gambling debt to the MGM Grand without reporting the transaction to the federal government, a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act that is punishable by a fine up to $250,000 and prison time. 

“The decision to plead to the single charge, for failing to file a suspicious activity report (SAR) at MGM Resorts in 2017, was not easily arrived at given the underlying facts and realities in this matter,” Sibella said in the statement. 

“Contrary to published reports, Mr. Sibella never used a betting account and never made any illegal bets,” Spilotro said in a statement. “In addition, Mr. Sibella had no involvement in the bookmaking activities of Mathew Bowyer and nothing whatsoever to do with Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter of Shohei Ohtani.”

In a sentencing memo, federal authorities noted that when questioned by law enforcement in 2022, “defendant admitted that he had ‘heard that Nix was in the booking business’  and he ‘couldn’t figure out how he had all the money he gambled with.’ Defendant further admitted ‘I didn’t want to know because of my position, . . . in this business, they [bookies] are a dime a dozen. . . I stay out of it. If we know, we can’t allow them to gamble. . . I didn’t ask, I didn’t want to know I guess because he wasn’t doing anything to cheat the casino.’” 

Numerous individuals, including Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill asked Federal Judge Dolly Gee to show leniency in sentencing Sibella. 

“What he is accused of is out of character and doesn’t represent the person I’ve come to know,” McMahill wrote, according to legal documents. “For as long as I have known him, he has displayed unwavering support to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.”

Sibella’s attorneys wrote in a sentencing memo on April 24 that in 30 years in the gaming industry “…Mr. Sibella has never been disciplined by the Nevada Gaming Control Board or New Jersey Casino Control Commission. No fines, suspensions, or timeouts.” 

Days later,  the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which remained largely silent since news broke last year of the federal investigation, filed a complaint against Sibella that could result in the loss of his gaming license. 

The government noted in its sentencing recommendation that Sibella “is no longer a casino president, which was the environment in which the crime occurred. Per defendant, he was terminated from employment at another large casino in Las Vegas due to this case. In addition, the negative publicity surrounding defendant’s felony conviction for violating the Bank Secrecy Act serves as a deterrent for both defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct.”  

Sibella’s attorneys argued his “personal history reflects generations of hard-working, selfmade, successful people – including his grandparents and parents. He inherited both their work ethic and commitment to those around them. Starting out as a busboy, construction worker, and eventually front desk clerk at a casino hotel, Mr. Sibella rose to being a recognized and respected figure in the Las Vegas hospitality business.” 

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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