POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 16, 2013
LAS VEGAS » The sign might read "For Sale" outside the sprawling southeastern Las Vegas estate that Wayne Newton dubbed "Casa de Shenandoah."
But Newton's wife, Kathleen McCrone Newton, said Friday that even if a bidder buys the property at auction May 31, the "Mr. Las Vegas" crooner and his family have no intention of moving out.
"We stay here until we choose to leave. We have that right," Kathleen Newton said. "Even if at some point the property gets sold, it gets sold with us here."
She said a lease with a partnership that purchased the nearly 40-acre property for $19.5 million in June 2010 will let the couple and their 10-year-old daughter stay in the opulent main house.
The mansion, featuring 17th-century antiques and keepsakes from performers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Bobby Darin, was to have been the featured attraction in a "Graceland West" attraction commemorating the career of the 70-year-old Newton. But those plans have crumbled. Kathleen Newton's sister, Trisha McCrone, lives in another home on the property. Newton's 92-year-old former longtime personal secretary, Mona Matoba, lives in a third.
A menagerie including Newton's penguins, swans and Arabian horses also stays, Kathleen Newton said.
Maybe not, said Joseph Wielebinski, a Dallas-based lawyer representing the property owner, CSD LLC, in a bitterly contested Chapter 11 reorganization. "We have teed up that issue for resolution by the judge," Wielebinski said. "It is anything but certain whether the Newtons remain on the property."
The Newtons don't own the Casa de Shenandoah property anymore, Wielebinski said. While Newton certainly owns his famous Arabian horses, he doesn't own the irrigated green pastures where they graze or the barns where they're kept. And leases can be broken during bankruptcy.
"This is a business divorce. Everything is contested," Wielebinski said.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Bruce Markell in Las Vegas is poised during hearings March 29 and April 8 to rule on questions about who owns what. The judge last month approved letting CSD sell animals including two sloths, several wallabies and more than 100 birds.
The breakup is complicated by the structure of the June 2010 land purchase deal around which the Wayne Newton tourism attraction would have been built.
Wayne and Kathleen Newton, through a business entity called Sacred Land LLC, own 20 percent of their bankrupt landlord, CSC LLC. Lacy and Dorothy Harber of Texas, through DLH LLC, own 70 percent of the property ownership entity. CSD Management LLC, made up of project manager Steven Kennedy and his partner, Geneva Clark, have a 10 percent stake.
There is also acrimony between the parties. They have traded allegations of fraud, mismanagement, animal abuse and sexual harassment even before the case reached bankruptcy court.
"Though CSD will probably disagree, the Newtons have a right under the lease to remain on the property," Newton attorney Bryce Kunimoto said.
Charles McCrea Jr., an attorney representing the Harbers, said the Newtons may be able to remain in the three houses if they want.
"But they will not have control over the entire ‘Casa de Shenandoah' property, only that portion occupied by the houses," he said. "The Newtons may decide they don't want to stay in the houses because they will have little say on what may be developed around them."