Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Maybe Charles Barkley meant that the check is in the mail.
On his pregame NBA show on the TNT cable network Monday evening, Barkley told the show’s host, Ernie Johnson, he has paid back the $400,000 he owed Wynn Las Vegas.
In a response to a story first reported in the Las Vegas Sun last week, Barkley also told Johnson that as a result of the controversy, he is giving up gambling.
Apparently, the truth of both of Barkley’s statements remains to be seen.
Immediately after Barkley’s assertions, District Attorney David Roger said: “We have no evidence to suggest that he has made any payments. We have neither heard from Mr. Barkley nor received restitution from him.”
Roger’s office last week opened a criminal investigation into the debt at the request of the Wynn.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Bernie Zadrowski, who oversees the bad check unit, which is handling the case, said Wynn officials had informed him that, as of 5:30 p.m. Monday, about 15 minutes after Barkley’s remarks, the casino had not received any money from Barkley.
And for prosecutors to drop the criminal case, Barkley must not only repay the Wynn, he must also pay a 10 percent fee — $40,000 — to the bad check unit.
“There’s no record of him having paid the Wynn, and he certainly has not paid the district attorney’s office,” Zadrowski said.
One possible explanation for the discrepancy: Barkley could have routed the money through his casino host, a source familiar with the way casinos collect gambling debts said.
A Wynn representative said the casino does not comment on pending litigation.
The Sun broke the news last week that the Wynn had filed a lawsuit against Barkley seeking payment of the gambling debt. The suit said the money had been lent to Barkley in four $100,000 markers on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19.
Barkley acknowledged on TNT Monday night, as he did last week, he’d “screwed up” by not paying back the $400,000 earlier.
“It was 100 percent my fault,” he said, adding that the incident has caused him to want to stop gambling.
“I’m not going to gamble anymore,” he said.
But by the end of his discussion with Johnson, he’d softened his stance, saying he wouldn’t gamble for “the next year or two.”
Jeff German is the Sun’s senior investigative reporter.