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 MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In a case pending in Hennepin County District Court, a local landlord has sued Treasure Island Casino & Bingo for breach of lease. The leased space was for the former office of Winning Ways Tour Company which Treasure Island acquired in October 1992. Treasure Island promised to sign a long-term lease for the office space. After having been unsuccessful in trying to get the landlord's case dismissed based on Sovereign Immunity, Treasure Island now has sued the former owner of Winning Ways, Brent A. Johnson, claiming somehow that Johnson was responsible for Treasure Island's rental payments.
 Johnson has responded by bringing claims against Treasure Island that he was in the process of preparing based upon casino improprieties in the acquisition of Winning Ways and the casino's termination, without cause, of Johnson's long-term employment agreement. Documentation indicates that the casino terminated Johnson (and other former Winning Ways employees) without cause, only two months into a 3-year contract. Johnson was led to believe he was hired by the casino to develop and manage their tour operation.
 According to Johnson, the case brings to light some shocking allegations on how this casino is doing business, and how employees, customers and local business people are adversely affected.
 Following are excerpts from the text of Court File No. 93-000172
 Hennepin County District Court:
 The allegations by Brent A. Johnson against Treasure Island Casino & Bingo and individuals associated with the casino are contained in the court file and, in substance, are as follows:
 1. Winning Ways Tour Company was the largest bus tour operator to Treasure Island Casino during 1992.
 2. Brent A. Johnson was the sole shareholder of Winning Ways which employed a number of people.
 3. Winning Ways ran bus tours to Treasure Island as well as other locations.
 4. Approximately 70-80 percent of Winnings Ways customers were from the Black and Hmong communities, including many from Chicago, St. Louis and Milwaukee. Allegations are that Treasure Island had a known policy that they did not want Black or Asian customers. Johnson was told by casino officials that Black and Asian customers were not welcome at the casino.
 5. An internal Treasure Island memo anonymously received admits that the casino did not want Blacks and Hmongs because they were "non- gamblers."
 6. Treasure Island and some of its officers and employees devised a plan to buy Winning Ways, hire Johnson (and his employees), learn what they could from Johnson and his employees, and then terminate their employment. The suit alleges that the casino wanted to destroy Winning Ways, in part, so that they could exclude or limit Black and Asian customers.
 7. Many other complaints of discrimination have been lodged against the casino in the past, by minority customers and other tour operators.
 8. Treasure Island bought Winning Ways on Oct. 1, 1992 and induced Johnson with a 3-year employment agreement to develop and run an in- house tour department.
 9. Treasure Island terminated Johnson and other former Winning Ways employees, without cause, two months later on Dec. 1, 1992.
 10. Treasure Island refused to properly pay signing bonuses and severance payments to Johnson which are calculated by a formula under the employment agreement. The casino has refused to provide its financial information to Johnson so that the amounts can be verified. Damages against Treasure Island Casino could exceed $3,000,000.
 11. Treasure Island had also agreed to sign a new lease on the former Winning Ways office in Bloomington, Minn.
 12. Treasure Island removed Johnson and other employees from the office space and then failed to pay rent or sign a new lease. Landlord for the space commenced a lawsuit against Treasure Island. Treasure Island months later decided to claim that Johnson was still responsible for rent and brought a third-party complaint against Johnson and another company Johnson was affiliated with.
 13. Johnson who was planning to bring claims anyway against the casino, brought a counterclaim against the casino, five tribal counsel members and two employees for:
 -- breach of contract
 -- fraud
 -- statutory misrepresentation
 -- race discrimination
 -- restraint of trade
 -- deceptive trade practices, and
 -- intentional interference with contractual relationships.
 Johnson also intends to seek treble and punitive damages on the above claims.
 14. A former employee of the casino has given damaging testimony implicating Treasure Island president, Freeman Johnson and his assistant Todd Strusz, in the development and implementation of the allegedly fraudulent plan to destroy Winning Ways and Brent Johnson. The witness also testified that many tribal members feel that they can do anything to anybody and that sovereign immunity will prevent lawsuits. The same witness recounted a recent incident at the casino during which an announcement was made over the casino loudspeaker stating, "All Blacks get the hell out of here or you will be prosecuted."
 15. In the litigation, Treasure Island has failed to comply with Brent Johnson's discovery requests. Freeman Johnson, Casino Attorney Heidi Drobnick, and Strusz failed to appear at depositions in late October in violation of court issued subpoenas.
 16. Treasure Island has scheduled a motion on Nov. 23, 1993 to try to dismiss all of Brent Johnson's claims based on sovereign immunity. Treasure Island has not denied Brent Johnson's claims. Treasure Island attorneys also claim that the individual casino personnel are also protected by sovereign immunity, even though two of them are not even members of the Tribe.
 There are currently other suits pending against Treasure Island by former employees, including Leslie Vodinelich and four other former employees for sexual harassment, and Dan Foote/Foote Marketing, St. Paul, Minn., for breach of contract and defamation.
 -0- 11/5/93
 /CONTACT: Brent A. Johnson, 612-431-3662; or Craig D. Greenberg, attorney, 612-545-2720/

CO: Treasure Island Casino ST: Minnesota IN: CNO SU:

DB-AL -- MN008 -- 1384 11/05/93 16:58 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 5, 1993

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