Published Friday, July 17, 2009 | 12:58 p.m.
Updated Saturday, July 18, 2009 | 2:31 p.m.
This all seems entirely fitting. The first time I ever wrote about Wayne Newton was more than a decade ago when he was entangled with Tony Orlando in a suit/countersuit in Branson, Mo. Both sides claimed the other owed money in a business deal that hit some really sour notes at the Talk of the T.O.W.N. Theatre, which was leased by Newton and sublet by Orlando. (Revisit that long-ago saga here.)
What we learned, then and subsequently, is that Wayne Newton frequently finds himself the focus of legal action (his legal battles during his days when he co-owned the Aladdin, and with NBC and the IRS, are documented on his Wikipedia entry). It’s just a point of fact, something to be aware of as you follow the Newton camp. As anyone who has muscled through my work over the years knows, I’ve been friendly with The Wayner, his family and his inner circle for a long time, and every so often, I find that someone has filed a complaint against him asking for back payment for all sorts of reasons. Among them:
-- For services rendered, like flying The Wayner’s plane to dates all over the country.
-- For money owed on the lease on a new Cadillac Escalade.
-- For money owed for thousands of bales of hay.
This week was particularly busy for The Wayner on the legal front. As reported in a story earlier today by my colleague Steve Green, Newton was sued twice this week by creditors who claim he (Newton, not Green) owes thousands of dollars, about $70,000 total, for back payments in separate cases. In one suit, GMAC is suing Newton for money owed on the lease on a 2005 Cadillac Escalade. In another complaint, Newton is being sued for the balance of a bill for 4,032 bales of hay to feed The Wayner’s 70 or so Arabian horses at Casa de Shenandoa.
Better call President Obama -- it looks like The Wayner is in dire need of a bale out. (BA-DUM-BUM!) Thank you, and remember to tip your waitresses ...
This all follows a February filing in which onetime Wayner pilot Monty Ward won a judgment for more than $450,000 in back wages. The court ordered Newton’s wages garnished for his March and April dates at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre. That case is still pending in federal court in Las Vegas, as Newton (through his company Erin Miel Inc.) claims he can’t both satisfy the court-ordered amount and its financial obligations to Newton’s orchestra and staff.
At the moment, Newton’s team has no comment on any ongoing legal cases. But I do have a few thoughts about what is unfolding here:
On the hay case, the plaintiff is teenage Moapa Valley alfalfa grower Austin Eide, who had a deal with Newton through his rep Debby Buck to deliver more than 4,000 bales of hay at $12 per bale to “The Ranch,” as Shenandoah is often termed. A total of 18 shipments were made from July to October 2008, but payments for those bales ceased in October, and Newton still allegedly owes $32,384. Eide’s attorney, Gregory Mills of the firm Mills & Mills LLC, told Green that Eide is but a 19-year-old farm boy from Logandale. “He invested a lot of money in this,” Mills said. “It’s a lot of money for a 19-year-old kid.” I suspect that the Newton claim will be that this financial arrangement, while ultimately Newton’s responsibility, may have fallen apart without him even realizing it. Newton employs a horde of staffers, and often something occurs -- sickness, unexplained absences, whatever -- that causes job responsibilities to fall out. Meanwhile, The Wayner might be off playing the Beau Rivage in Biloxi or some tribal resort in Missouri. Often it isn’t until someone claiming he or she is owed money files a lawsuit that someone snaps to attention. Keeping the creatively brilliant, right-brained Newton organized is in itself a full-time job.
Newton’s Escalade was leased from Findlay Cadillac/Saab on Auto Show Drive in Henderson in April 2005. Say this for The Wayner, he has good credit: The contract indicates that he was required to put down only $894.39, the amount of the rig’s first payment, on a vehicle valued at $65,639. The suit says he still owes $36,999 on the Cadillac. For that money, he could buy, like, three used Mazda 6's.
The payment from Newton’s February and March performances at the MGM Grand ($91,000, total) is being held by the court until the case is finally resolved. Newton will be back at the Hollywood Theatre from Oct. 22-28 (so says his Web site, anyway). The Wayniacs will be out in force, and I’m sure one person rooting hard for sellouts will be airman Monty Ward.