In a motion to dismiss an invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by former employee Jorgen Nielsen, Wynn Resorts on Friday filed documents with the Clark County District Court containing testimony from Renee Palleggi alleging that Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine, orchestrated the effort to force her former spouse out of the gaming company he founded by manufacturing sexual misconduct allegations against him.
In an affidavit attached to the Wynn Resorts filing, Palleggi says Nielsen, formerly a Wynn Las Vegas hairstylist, contacted her in December 2017 to inform her the he knew Elaine Wynn was actively reaching out to members of the media, steering them towards women that would levy sexual misconduct claims against her ex-husband.
Just a couple of months later, the Wall Street Journal broke a story detailing various allegations against Steve Wynn, forcing from the gaming company he founded. Later in the affidavit, Palleggi says Nielsen, who’s seeking $50,000 in damages from his former employer, told her that he was with Elaine at the Kennedy Center Honors in late 2017 and saw her give a list of accusers of her former husband to reporters from the Journal.
Nielsen has lashed out against those he perceives as opposed to his interests (which he apparently believes are aligned with those of Elaine Wynn),” according to the Wynn Resorts court document.
The former employee’s suit, which was revealed last month, names the company, current CEO Matt Maddox, former general counsel Kim Sinatra and ex-security director James Stern as defendants.
She’s On Team Wynn
Palleggi is described as friend of Steve Wynn’s and their relationship is apparently close. She says that she and her family members call the former gaming honcho “Uncle Steve” and that she gave her son the middle name “Wynn” due to affection for her friend, reports Bloomberg.
Palleggi’s Instragram account, which has more than 7,700 followers, contains confirmation of her support for her friend.
There are multiple pictures of headlines from newspaper articles describing Steve Wynn’s defamation suit against Nielsen and another with a picture of the Wynn on the Las Vegas Strip with the words “Stand With Steve” splashed across it. That particular post garnered 614 “likes.”
Her comments that Wynn Resorts provided to the Nevada court contain some salacious details.
“Jorgen told me that I should say that Steve raped me and that I gave birth to my son as a result,” Pallegi said.
She went onto to claim that the former Wynn staffer told her that Elaine would provide her with a six-figure payday if she spoke out against Steve. Nielsen and Palleggi have known each other for close to two decades, according to the court documents.
Nielsen’s suit against the gaming company is one of several that have popped up in recent months. In September, Brenna Schrader, a massage therapist at Wynn Las Vegas, brought a class action suit against the casino operator. Days later on Oct. 1, nine women filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company, alleging that Steve frequently made light of his misdeeds.
Friction With Elaine
As Bloomberg notes, Wynn Resorts’ effort to dismiss the Nielsen suit combined with the potentially inflammatory comments from Palleggi could further strain what is already believed to be a tense relationship between the company and Elaine, one of its largest shareholders.
Elaine owns eight percent of Wynn stock, making her by far the largest individual holder of the company’s equity. Based on the most recent shares outstanding tally of 106 million, that means she controls 8.48 million shares, but she doesn’t have a board seat. Only fund issuers Vanguard and T. Rowe Price own more Wynn Resorts equity than Elaine.
Elaine acquired her stake in the company in a settlement with her ex-husband. He liquidated his financial interest in the casino operator in March 2018 at prices the stock has yet to return to since his departure.