New Jersey law firm Gibbons P.C.’s report on Stockton University’s botched purchase of the Showboat Atlantic City was released Tuesday, and is available online. The school may have found a buyer for the Showboat in Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, though the sale is still not final.
The university purchased the shuttered casino in in an attempt to build a campus within Atlantic City’s tourism district, and soon ran into intractable opposition from Trump Entertainment Resorts.
The report levels the majority of the blame on then-university president Herman J. Saatkamp, who investigators say did not take necessary steps to negotiate with the casinos on their 1988 covenant mandating the property’s use as a casino before finalizing the sale. The report also chastises Stevan A. Sandberg of law firm Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader, who served as Saatkamp’s top advisor during the run-up to the sale.
The report described Saatkamp as uncooperative with investigators.
Trustees at the university were also not informed of the details of the closing, an omission that the report says left the university vulnerable to the quagmire that followed. Representatives at Caesars Entertainment, which sold the property to Stockton, said before the closing that they would not be able to the covenant from being enforced.
The Press of Atlantic City reported earlier this month that Saatamp had been in frequent contact with Christie advisor Jon Hanson, who chairs the committee that recommended the city’s emergency managers Kevin Lavin and Kevyn Orr. Hanson had told the newspaper that he would comment on his involvement with the sale once the report was made public.
“[Notwithstanding] a number of communications during various periods between Hanson and Saatkamp, the content of those communications establishes that Hanson did not play a particularly active role,” said the investigators in their report, adding that it is likely that Hanson himself was not aware of the restrictions until after his contact with Saatkamp.