Former Mohegan Sun CEO agrees to $60,000 fine

Former Mohegan Sun CEO Robert Soper is photographed at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania in this 2015 file photo. Soper agreed to a $60,000 fine for failing to properly disclose business interests. (Jack Kelley/The Citizens' Voice)
Former Mohegan Sun CEO Robert Soper is photographed at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania in this 2015 file photo. Soper agreed to a $60,000 fine for failing to properly disclose business interests. (Jack Kelley/The Citizens' Voice)

Bobby Soper, the former Mohegan Sun executive who abruptly resigned in February, agreed to pay a $60,000 fine for failing to properly disclose his ownership interests in 10 companies, including two that did business with Mohegan Sun Pocono, the Mohegan Tribe’s Wilkes-Barre, Pa., casino.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the fine Wednesday as part of a settlement with Soper, who was president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun Pocono from December 2005 until October 2012.

Soper, who now lives in Florida, said in a phone interview that he voluntarily agreed to the settlement, or “consent agreement,” which he signed last month. He said his failure to properly disclose his business interests was “purely a negligent, unintentional administrative mistake ... a clerical mistake.”

According to the agreement, Soper failed to disclose his interests on license applications he filed with regulators. Two of the 10 companies in which he held a stake, Drinkholder and ReferLocal, did business directly with Mohegan Sun Pocono, the gaming board said in a news release.

Soper did, however, list his interests on federal tax returns he filed with his applications, the agreement says.

“It was not a lack of transparency,” Soper said. “It wasn’t intentional. But it’s a key application, a license renewal, and I made a mistake. The message is that you’ve got to take these applications seriously; you can’t just cut and paste. I made a mistake and I have to pay the repercussions.”

Soper violated regulations by failing to disclose his interests on applications he submitted to the gaming board in 2013 and 2016, and failed to properly update applications he previously had submitted to the board, the agreement says.

“Mr. Soper’s failings in this respect are particularly serious in the case of the companies with which MSP (Mohegan Sun Pocono) was directly doing business because of the potential for the appearance of impropriety and conflicts of interest that such relationships could engender,” it says.

Soper said he entered into the agreement and agreed to pay the fine to ensure he was in good standing in the gaming industry. Since leaving Mohegan Sun, he said, he has relocated to Sunrise, Fla., started his own company and is involved in a number of projects, principally integrated resorts, “as developer, adviser and in some cases part owner.”

His company, Sun Gaming & Hospitality, is named for the town Sunrise and has no connection with Mohegan Sun, he said.

Soper left Mohegan Sun Pocono upon being named president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, the tribe’s flagship casino. In April 2015, he was promoted to president and CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, now Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which oversees all of the tribe’s gaming ventures.

A Mohegan tribal member, Soper resigned Feb. 14, saying he was “leaving on good terms” to pursue “a new challenge.” MTGA announced his resignation the next day and also revealed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the gaming board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel was looking into “possible operational control deficiencies” at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

The review grew out of an investigation that led to a former Mohegan Sun Pocono vice president and two others being indicted in the theft of more than $400,000 from the casino. All three pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. The incident occurred well after Soper left the Wilkes-Barre casino.

“My clerical mistake regarding the business disclosure on the Pennsylvania renewal application is absolutely unrelated to that matter,” Soper said. “I had no oversight or involvement, directly or indirectly, in any manner in the operation of Mohegan Sun Pocono when those events transpired. In fact, my previous employer has publicly stated the same.”

Mohegan officials, including Kevin Brown, the tribe’s chairman, have said Soper had no involvement with the Mohegan Sun Pocono incident. In April, Soper and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reached an agreement that called for the authority to keep paying him his $1 million-plus salary through February 2018.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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