Pinnacle CEO Resigns

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#1 Nov 9, 2009
St. Louis Business Journal - November 9, 2009
/stlouis/stories/2009/11/09/da ily1.html

Business News - Local News
Monday, November 9, 2009, 8:26am
Pinnacle CEO resigns
St. Louis Business Journal
Pinnacle is building the $350 million River City Casino in Lemay.

Daniel Lee, chairman and chief executive of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., which owns Lumiere Place, President Casino and River City Casino, has resigned amid a state investigation into his alleged threats against a St. Louis County councilman.

Richard Goeglein has been named interim non-executive chairman and John Giovenco has been named interim chief executive, the Las Vegas-based casino operator said Monday. Pinnacle did not mention the inquiry in announcing the news and said Lee stepped down to "pursue other business interests."

The board will conduct an executive search for a new president and chief executive, Pinnacle said.

State investigators have launched an inquiry into Lee’s behavior during a vote by the St. Louis County Council last week on a $350 million casino complex being developed by another company, North County Development LLC.

Gaming Commission Executive Director Gene McNary said through a spokeswoman Monday that the commission will continue its probe. "Lee resigning is a Pinnacle corporate issue," spokeswoman LeAnn McCarthy said. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is conducting the inquiry on behalf of the commission.

County councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, has said Lee flew in from Las Vegas and visited him before Tuesday’s council meeting. Pinnacle is building River City Casino, a $350 million casino complex, in Stenger’s district in Lemay.

Stenger said Lee, whom he had not met before, asked him to vote against a plan to rezone a property for the proposed Riverview Casino near Spanish Lake.

Stenger said he believed the two casinos would be far enough apart that he didn’t understand why Lee would take an interest in the matter, the Associated Press reported.

Stenger said that after he voted in favor of the rezoning Lee rushed to the platform where the council was sitting. Stenger told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Lee got “about two feet from my face” before being waved aside by someone else and told he couldn’t interrupt the meeting.

He said Lee went over to Stenger’s assistant, Linda Henry, and said:“He just made the worst move in his political career! I won’t forget this! I never forget things like this!”

Lee issued a statement last week apologizing for the outburst.“I apologize for making anyone uncomfortable, which certainly was not my intent,” he said.“I was passionate in my discussion of the issue, which is important to our neighborhood and to the investment and jobs at River City. However, I did not mean to cause offense to anyone, including Councilman Stenger and his staff.”

Metro East attorney Brad Lakin of LakinChapman LLC in Wood River, Ill., and his wife, Hallie Lakin, executive Kenneth Goldstein of Argo Products Co. and real estate investor Julie McDonald are the principals of North County Development, the firm behind Riverview Casino.

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