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Purchase Negotiations for Trump Marina Casino Came to
Standstill after Shooting of Taj Mahal Casino Manager


By Suzette Parmley, The Philadelphia InquirerMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 28, 2009--Today is the deadline for Coastal Development L.L.C., of New York, to buy the Trump Marina casino in Atlantic City.

It is highly unlikely, however, that a deal will be made final any time soon. As of yesterday, Coastal still had not finished filing the necessary paperwork for interim casino authorization, which is required for casino acquisition in New Jersey.

"The application is not complete," Casino Control Commission spokesman Dan Heneghan said yesterday regarding Coastal's application for the interim authorization.

All talks between Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. executives and Coastal over the Marina deal came to a standstill yesterday when violence erupted at another Trump property, the Taj Mahal. A casino manager at the Taj was shot to death, apparently by a customer, about midafternoon.

The manager, Ray Kot, described as a veteran casino employee in Atlantic City, was pronounced dead about 5:30 p.m.

"He was the loveliest man," said Mark Juliano, chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment, which owns the Trump casinos in Atlantic City. "He did not have an enemy in the world."

Juliano, who rushed to the scene, said the shooting occurred just off the casino floor of the Taj Mahal, in a back hallway, about 3:30 p.m.

Kot, of Egg Harbor Township, was shot in the abdomen and then rushed for surgery to Atlantic City Medical Center, where he died.

Over the last year, the Marina deal has been beset by problems, including the troubled economy and lending markets' effect on the property's price and the closing date.

Charlie Leonard, the spokesman for Coastal Marina L.L.C., which is an affiliate of Coastal Development, said the company would issue a statement today on the deal's status.

Earlier this month, tensions flared between the two sides when it was revealed in Bankruptcy Court that Trump Entertainment had asked Lazard to shop the property as part of its bankruptcy filing Feb. 17.

Coastal said that move was in breach of Trump Entertainment's exclusive agreement to sell the property to Coastal.

But Juliano said asking Lazard to shop the company's three Atlantic City casinos around was part of Trump Entertainment's reorganization plan. If another party stepped forward and was interested in buying the whole company, he said, it would have to honor the contractual agreement Trump Entertainment entered with Coastal on May 29, 2008.

Under the agreement, Coastal was to buy and convert the Trump Marina into a Margaritaville-themed casino featuring entertainer Jimmy Buffett.

In the fall, the deal was revised, reducing the Marina's price to $270 million from the original offer of $316 million and moving the closing deadline from October to today.

Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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Copyright (c) 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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