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Milford Selectmen Consider Attorney for Casino Development

Milford Selectmen have started discussing who should represent the town in negotiations with a casino development. Two law firms have sent the town proposals.

Milford Selectmen Consider Attorney for Casino Development

Milford has an experienced town counsel, but for negotiations with a multi-million casino development, town officials are expected to select a law firm that focuses on working with communities on gaming proposals.

Two law firms already have sent the town proposals, and one is expected to attend the next meeting of selectmen to discuss its experience.

Shefsky & Froelich, a Chicago-based law firm, will be invited to the next meeting, said board Chairman Brian Murray.

Murray authorized the invitation despite opposition from Selectman Bill Buckley, who said he wanted to know who the top firms are for casino impact negotiations, rather than invite a single candidate in for discussion.

Buckley pointed out that Shefsky & Froelich already represents the town of Taunton, which is expected to consider a resort casino application from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

"Thirty-three miles down the road, from this community, they represent the town of Taunton," Buckley said. "What might be a competing entity. I'd also like to understand what successes they've had in mitigating secondary effects. This is something significant. I'd like to have more than one law firm to assess."

His comments sparked questions from Murray and Dino DeBartolomeis about whether a formal RFP, a request for proposals, would have to be used, and whether it would take several months.

Town Administrator Louis Celozzi said contracting an attorney would not have to follow that process.

"We can hire a law firm with out going out to bid," Celozzi said.

Milford is a potential host community for a resort casino, under an application submitted by developer David Nunes for "Crossroads Massachusetts." The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is now evaluating the finances and regulatory history of Nunes and his partners, which now include Foxwoods Casino.

The proposal would place the casino development on land east of Interstate 495 and north of Route 16. Nunes as yet has not disclosed the scope of his project to town officials or media. The Phase I application he submitted on Jan. 15 has not yet been made public by the Gaming Commission.

According to a Feb. 18 letter to Town Counsel Gerald Moody,  Shefsky & Froelich already represents the city of Springfield, which is considering several resort casino proposals. In the letter, attorney and shareholder Kimberly Copp said the firm had also represented, or represents, Detroit and Rockford, Ill. on similar projects.

"Further, we have represented casino developers, casino suppliers and vendors and financiers of casino projects," Copp wrote. "As such we have an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the casino industry and, therefore, believe we are one of the premier law firms in the United States with requisite balance of skills in the gaming industry to assist the town."

Deutsch Williams, a Boston-based law firm, sent an unsolicited letter to Celozzi on Jan. 5, before the Crossroads Massachusetts project had been submitted to the state's Gaming Commission.

Attorney Paul R. DeRensis, who is president of the Massachusetts Selectman's Association, said he had read media accounts of the casino project. Deutsch Williams, he wrote, has conducted presentations on the implications and effects of the casino gaming law, most recently to the town of Foxborough.

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