weather icon Partly Cloudy

Former Las Vegas Sands executive accused of stealing documents

A fired Las Vegas Sands Corp. casino executive was accused this week of having “looted” hundreds of confidential documents from the casino operator, the company alleged in court filings.

Also, the attorney for the former employee has stepped away from a heated wrongful termination lawsuit, though he said the two events are unrelated.

In motions filed in Clark County District Court on Tuesday, attorneys for Las Vegas Sands said Steven Jacobs, who oversaw the company’s three casinos in Macau for more than a year, stole roughly 11 gigabytes of documents that may contain company trade secrets, research, and confidential development information. Jacobs was fired by the company last summer.

In a filing, Jacobs reportedly admitted having the documents and agreed to return them to the company. However, he later refused to do so.

“Las Vegas Sands has no choice but to bring the instant motion seeking a protective order barring Jacobs from producing stolen company documents in this matter and compelling return of sensitive company documents to Las Vegas Sands,” the company’s attorneys said in a filing.

A hearing on the motions is set for Oct. 18.

Meanwhile, Jacobs’ attorney, Donald Campbell, said he was withdrawing from the case, but his reasons “had nothing to do with the merits” of the lawsuit. Campbell said reasons were a matter of attorney-client privilege.

Campbell disputed the company’s allegations that Jacobs stole privileged information.

“Steve Jacobs never stole a damn thing from Las Vegas Sands,” Campbell said. “We have nothing to suggest otherwise. The materials came to him in his normal course of duty. The filing would be laughable if it wasn’t sort of smarmy. I sort of expect that type of thing from Las Vegas Sands. It’s staged and theatrical.”

Campbell has represented clients in several lawsuits against Las Vegas Sands and company Chairman Sheldon Adelson. In 2009, he negotiated a $42.5 million settlement from the company for three men who claimed they helped Las Vegas Sands obtain its Macau gaming license.

Campbell now represents nine current and former members of the casino company’s executive protection team, which keeps watch over the Adelson family 24 hours a day. They have sued Las Vegas Sands and The Venetian seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime they claim they are owed.

Campbell said Las Vegas attorney James Pisanelli is expected to take over the Jacobs lawsuit. In 2008 Pisanelli was on the legal team that won a $43.8 million verdict in civil lawsuit against Las Vegas Sands brought by Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen, who also claimed he helped the company win its Macau gaming license.

In November, the Nevada Supreme Court vacated the judgment and sent the case back for retrial.

In his wrongful termination lawsuit, Jacobs claims Adelson wanted him to use “improper leverage” against unnamed senior Macau government officials to help the company secure rights to sell apartments at its Four Seasons Macau. Jacobs also claims Adelson wanted him to employ a Macau attorney who held a government position.

Last week, Jacobs’ name surfaced in several confidential government cables revealed by Internet-based whistle-blower WikiLeaks, discussing junket operators in Macau who were said to be influenced by Chinese organized crime.

Allegations raised in the Jacobs lawsuit have caused the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate Las Vegas Sands for possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits payment of bribes to officers of foreign governments.

The legal battle between Jacobs and Las Vegas Sands has drawn the attention of Wall Street, where analysts fear the federal investigations could hurt the company’s stock value.

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

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.