It’s not easy being Mr. Las Vegas

Entertainer Wayne Newton’s money woes and legal skirmishes are continuing at warp speed. 

Newton has had a long history of financial problems.  Newton famously declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy after becoming mired in roughly $20 million in debt about 18 years ago and the IRS said in 2005 that Newton owed $1.8 million in back taxes and penalties. 

Then, earlier this month it was learned that Newton abandoned his plane at the Oakland County International Airport three years ago and now owes more than $60,000 in storage fees and now faces lawsuits. 

Also this month, a civil lawsuit was filed in Clark County District Court by Bruton Smith, chairman and founder of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Smith is seeking to seize Newton’s home for repayment of a $3.35 million loan. 

Smith alleges Newton and his wife intentionally defrauded him and misrepresented their ability to repay the loan. 

A lawsuit was also filed last summer for nonpayment of $32,000 worth of hay for his horses. 

To top that off (if that’s possible), yesterday a large posse of Clark County sheriff’s process servers and moving vans showed up in the morning at Newton’s 38-acre ranch at Pecos and Sunset roads in Las Vegas, trying to serve the entertainer with judgment documents and take his property pertaining to a civil lawsuit brought by his former pilot, Monty Ward.  

Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt in September ordered Newton to pay Ward about $455,000 in back wages with interest accruing at the rate of roughly $129 per day. Court records show Newton paid less than $4,000 to Ward as of September. 

A similar action by Ward is simultaneously being pursued in U.S. District Court. 

Ward filed a federal breach-of-contract lawsuit in 2006 against Newton and a Nevada company called Desert Eagle. 

According to the lawsuit, the defendants asked Ward around February 2003 to work as their private pilot for the next decade. He was to start at a minimum annual salary of $92,000, plus medical and dental benefits, according to the complaint. 

“In reliance on assurances of continued employment and payment from defendants for a minimum of 10 years, Ward left his employment of 16 years as a captain and pilot with Horizon Airlines and became defendants’ private pilot,” the lawsuit alleges. 

Then, around August 2005, according to the document, Newton and Desert Eagle decided to discontinue using their private aircraft. The lawsuit claims Ward sent the defendants invoices for his services and benefits for periods after they decided to discontinue using their private aircraft, but despite repeated demands, they refused to pay him. 

In January 2009, then-U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval ruled that Newton and Desert Eagle had breached a settlement agreement they had reached with Ward, and Sandoval entered a judgment of about $455,000 against the defendants.

Late last month, a writ of execution was issued in the case by the U.S. District Court clerk. The writ directed the U.S. Marshals Service to enforce the judgment, which, with interest, has grown to more than $500,000. 

This Tuesday, Ward filed a notice of his intention to take Newton’s deposition on March 4 in Las Vegas.

Yesterday, deputies left Newton’s compound without being able to properly serve him  The documents were returned to District Court marked “unexecuted,” and no further service will be attempted pending civil court actions, police said. 

The Wayne Newton saga is hardly over.   If anything, it will be rapidly ramping up in the next few months.  Please stay tuned to Las Vegas Backstage Access for developments.

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