Developer accuses ex-partners of extortion, making death threats

Nevada developer and lobbyist Harvey Whittemore retaliated Wednesday against his former partners, hitting them with a lawsuit alleging racketeering and telling a bizarre story in which he claimed he and his family had endured repeated death threats as part of an extortion scheme.

Two former business partners of Whittemore sued him last week, claiming he had embezzled money from their joint-venture companies.

An attorney for Whittemore fired back on Wednesday, claiming in a federal lawsuit that Thomas Seeno, his brother Albert Seeno Jr. and Seeno Jr.'s son Albert Seeno III had conspired to defraud Whittemore and that the two Albert Seenos threatened to kill Whittemore and his family if he didn't follow their instructions.

"This is a case involving racketeering and extortion based on threats of death and severe bodily harm made by Albert Seeno Jr. and Albert Seeno III, against attorney and businessman Harvey Whittemore and his family," Wednesday's lawsuit says.

The suit includes allegations that "Albert Seeno Jr. and Albert Seeno III are associated with organized crime networks, have associated with and are associating with known felons and are currently, along with Doe (unnamed) defendants, under investigation by the FBI and IRS, and were raided by agents of the FBI, IRS and the Secret Service."

Whittemore's suit says Thomas Seeno and Albert Seeno Jr. own and operate several Nevada casinos, including the Peppermill Resort and Casino in Reno, the Rainbow Club in Henderson and Western Village Casino in Sparks. The Seenos also have been involved with Whittemore in the Coyote Springs residential development north of Las Vegas.

Whittemore claims that Albert Seeno Jr., after becoming disgruntled with his investments in Whittemore's company Wingfield Nevada Group Holding Co. LLC, started falsely accusing Harvey Whittemore of embezzlement, fraud and other criminal activity.

"Albert Seeno Jr. threatened to go to the FBI with information that he alleged he had regarding these alleged improprieties; that he would personally bring down every member of the political 'machine' in Nevada including references to U.S. senators," the suit says.

As for charges Whittemore had embezzled money from the company he and the Seenos invested in, the suit says Whittemore has actually loaned money to the company and it owes him about $30 million. The suit also says Whittemore had borrowed about $20 million from Thomas Seeno and that the Seenos then used this debt to coerce Whittemore to turn over assets to them.

"The Whittemores, operating under these threats of criminal prosecution, death and serious bodily injury, commenced transferring assets to WNG and to defendant Tom Seeno, in payment of his lawfully incurred debt to Tom Seeno," the suit says, adding this conduct had been reported to law enforcement. "The Seenos have directed their employees to the Whittemores’ homes to intimidate them and force them to give up assets, including jewelry, art and automobiles under the continued threat of bodily injury."

A message for comment was placed with an attorneys for the Seenos.