Businessman who outbid casino company files for bankruptcy

A Las Vegas businessman who five years ago outbid Las Vegas Sands Corp. in an auction for the lease on nearly 80 acres west of McCarran International Airport filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, saying he owed more than $310 million.

Attorneys for Rick Burton said in the Chapter 7 filing with U.S. Bankruptcy Court their client had $6,546 in assets.

Burton represented Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Rightpath Limited Development Group, which in 2007 outbid Las Vegas Sands for the Clark County-owned site. During the auction, the casino operator and Rightpath one-upped each other 72 times to boost the cost of a 30-year lease from $620,000 a year, the original high bid, to $4.4 million a year.

Burton, who handled the bidding for Rightpath, said at the time that the company had not decided what it would do. A year later, Rightpath said it would develop a $192 million private air terminal, but the project was never built.

The land went into default. In the fall, Sands Aviation, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands, agreed to lease the land with plans to build a private hanger for the company's aircraft.

Court documents filed by Burton's attorneys listed nearly 100 creditors owed a few hundred dollars and $135 million owed to the State of Arizona for a land purchase. Burton also owes the IRS more than $6 million. Most of the creditors have addresses outside Nevada, primarily in Arizona. Other creditors include Mortgages Ltd., of Peoria, Ariz., owed $109 million for a business loan; and Glendale, Ariz., which is owed $20 million for development bond agreement.

Neither McCarran Airport nor Clark County were listed as creditors.

According to the filing, Burton's most notable debts in Las Vegas are to law firms Black & LoBello, Holland & Hart; and Kummer Kaempfer Bonner Renshaw & Ferrario for legal services. He owes NV Energy more than $5,000 for a past-due electric bill at a home in Henderson.

Rightpath was a large Arizona development company. It built the Glendale, Ariz., spring training facility now shared by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.

In 2007, Las Vegas Sands submitted the highest written bid at $620,000 a year for the McCarran land. Rightpath and Wynn Las Vegas each submitted written bids for $615,771. The Las Vegas development company Marnell Corrao entered the verbal bidding war, but dropped out when the lease price topped $1 million a year.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal. com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.