The Spearmint Rhino topless dancing club in Las Vegas is being sued over a June 2009 incident in which a diamond dealer says an employee stole two rings valued at up to $3.9 million.
An attorney for the dealer, Eli Noor, filed suit Tuesday in Clark County District Court against the adult cabaret and three individuals already implicated by authorities in the theft. Two Spearmint Rhino managers also were sued.
While the Spearmint Rhino has not yet been served with the suit, an attorney for the club said Thursday that the club had expended significant resources in investigating the incident and had cooperated with the jewelry dealer and police – and now is considering a countersuit.
As related in the lawsuit filed by Las Vegas attorney Andre Lagomarsino, Noor, of California, was in Las Vegas for the annual JCK Jewelry Show when he went to the club with a pouch of diamonds and diamond jewelry to show to a potential buyer.
After the would-be customer didn’t show up, Noor left for his hotel room only to realize his jewelry pouch was missing from his waist.
Upon his return, he was told security officer Matthew Keneley found the pouch and that it had been secured by management. The pouch was returned to Noor, who paid a manager and Keneley $3,200 as a reward.
But upon return to his hotel room, Noor discovered two diamond rings missing.
One had a 3.01 karat purplish-pink diamond and two fancy yellow diamonds on the side and was valued at between $1.5 million and $3 million.
The other was a 10.05 karat princess cut diamond with two 1.6 karat baguettes diamonds and was valued at about $900,000.
Noor returned to the club and offered $10,000 cash for the return of the rings, but was told by a manager that no one from Spearmint Rhino had them.
Noor then filed a police report and hired private investigators and other professionals to assist him in recovering the diamonds.
Keneley and his wife Antoinette were indicted in 2010 by a Clark County grand jury in the case on charges including theft and possession of stolen property. They have pleaded innocent. An acquaintance, Richard Cullinan, pleaded guilty to theft.
The lawsuit says that about two months after the theft, Noor learned one of the diamonds turned up in a New York City store and it was traced to a store known as Magnum Jewelers in the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman Islands store owner, Harry Chandi, told investigators he purchased it from a couple, later identified as the Keneleys, who had related it "was inherited and that they wanted to trade it away because it brought them bad luck.’’
This purplish-pink color diamond – from the ring valued at more than $1.5 million -- was sold for $7,000 and two loose diamond stones that the Keneleys sold for $18,000 to a pawn shop in California, the lawsuit says.
The suit says the Keneleys had asked Cullinan how to get rid of the remaining diamonds and he helped sell the 10.05 karat diamond with two 1.6 karat baguettes diamonds for $55,000 to the Gold Rush jewelry store on West Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas. It says the Keneleys then gave Cullinan $5,000.
This 10.5 karat princess ring hasn’t been located as the Gold Rush sold it to an unknown party in California, the lawsuit says.
The suit says Keneley wrote a letter of apology to Noor and admitted he took the diamonds, and that his wife also wrote a letter of apology.
In the lawsuit against the Spearmint Rhino, Noor alleges that Keneley admitted he took the jewelry to the back office and then stole the diamonds while one manager went to get a camera to take photos of the jewels and while another manager was in the room.
The suit accuses Spearmint Rhino and two managers of negligence, charging the club did not have proper procedures, training and supervision in place to ensure its customers’ lost and found property was protected by club employees.
The club and the two managers are also accused of civil conspiracy as the managers allegedly "took actions and inactions to allow Keneley to misappropriate the diamonds.’’
The suit seeks unspecified damages, including punitive damages, against the club, the two managers, the Keneleys and Cullinan.
Keneley is also known for his brief professional football career as a defensive tackle. He was drafted by the New York Giants in the 7th round of the 1997 draft and later played for San Francisco, records show.
William Brown, a Las Vegas attorney for Spearmint Rhino, issued this statement Thursday about the suit:
"We are disappointed, but not altogether surprised, to learn that a customer who blithely carried several million dollars worth of precious stones in his pocket into a gentlemen's club -- and promptly lost them -- has decided to sue the club after his property was returned. Notably, the bag containing the stones was found by an employee, delivered to management, and kept in the club safe until it was returned to the customer. Unknown at the time, one stone was not accounted for. The incident triggered a thorough internal investigation by Spearmint Rhino, which included independent polygraph examinations of employees, extensive cooperation with Metro detectives, and providing assistance to the customer's own investigators. The Spearmint Rhino was under no legal duty whatsoever to take any of these actions but nonetheless incurred substantial costs and expended significant resources in conducting this investigation, which ultimately assisted in the one missing stone being found and returned.
"The fact that one customer has now made the unfortunate, opportunistic decision to sue will not deter the Spearmint Rhino from continuing to exemplify the best of Las Vegas by providing unparalleled, world-class entertainment. We are, however, now forced to evaluate an appropriate countersuit."