Attorneys for two men are calling for local and federal prosecutors to investigate alleged brutality by security guards at Harrah’s Atlantic City casino.
Paul D’Amato and Michael Maggiano said Tuesday that they have petitioned the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office to launch a criminal investigation in the alleged beatings of Robert Coney and Sean Oaks. They have also filed two separate civil lawsuits in federal court against the casino and its owner Caesars Entertainment.
In separate incidents at the casino and resort in the city’s Marina District, the attorneys say Harrah’s security guards used "sadistic behavior" to attack and beat Coney and Oaks. They also claim their civil rights were violated.
Surveillance video from September 2013 captured Coney being hit in the head with a metal baton near the hotel’s nightclub The Pool. He had been arguing with a security guard about whether he left the nightclub when Coney says he was attacked by an off-duty Atlantic City Police Officer, moonlighting as casino security.
"He's pissed off. I don't know what happened to his day. He draws the baton, hits me in my throat and then cracks me in my skull," he said.
The Bala Cynwyd, Pa. accountant was then dragged away to a holding cell. The attorneys said the attack left him bloodied and caused him to lose consciousness and soil himself. They also say he was not provided proper medical care following the beating.
Oaks’ alleged attack, which was also caught on surveillance video, began after the man tried to take back his driver’s license from a guard who was bending it, he said. Oaks, a guitar teacher from the Philadelphia-area, claimed he was then grabbed from behind and beaten on the ground. He says he suffered a concussion and injury to his ribs.
"They kick me, they smash me in the back of the head. It was all unprovoked.," he said. "The first thing I heard from anyone...was someone say 'I can't get the cuffs on him' and the supervisor says 'Break his arms if you have to.'"
The attorneys say they’ve found a pattern of similar behavior taking place at Harrah’s, but not at other AC casinos. They are litigating nine other cases alleging brutality by security at the casino and are investigating others, the lawyers said.
NBC10 has detailed alleged attacks of others, over recent months, at Harrah's. A North Jersey man, who is also represented by the firm, filed suit in June after he was taken down on the casino floor.
Surveillance video also captured security guards detaining two cab drivers outside the casino. They have also filed suit through another attorney.
“There’s some epidemic there at Harrah’s,” Maggiano said.
The attorneys have also sent letters to the New Jersey Attorney General and U.S. Attorney General’s Office’s Civil Rights Commission urging them to investigate the cases.
In addition to seeking monetary awards for the men and their other clients, the attorneys are calling on Caesars’ CEO to launch an investigation into the alleged actions at the casino.
“We want Caesars to start acting like it’s in the hospitality industry. We want Caesars to stop hurting the public,” D’Amato said. “We want Caesars to clean house."
NBC10 has reached out to Caesars Entertainment for comment, but has yet to receive a response. A spokesperson for Atlantic City Police say their legal department is reviewing the allegations.