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« | Home | »

The Fertitta family and USA Capital

By Zach Arnold | January 5, 2009

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Update (1/6/08): Here are more details about the new Sartini monster house being constructed.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has a story about the US court system, USA Capital, and investors who lost so much money that they are living out of cars and selling off homes to try to pay off debts they have.

However, one group of investors who put money into USA Capital ended up recovering all of the money they invested:

The Fertitta family, founder of Station Casinos in Las Vegas, had $17 million invested in USA Capital and got it all back when one of their attorneys was on the oversight committee, Larson said. The attorney then resigned from the committee.

Anthony Zerbo, a 76-year-old from San Jose, Calif., invested about $900,000 in USA Capital over six years after seeing an advertisement in a financial publication.

“When you’re rolling it over and it’s doing good … you think first deeds of trust, you can’t go wrong,” Zerbo said. “Toward the end, things weren’t going good and we tried to pull back our loans and it wasn’t there.”

The first thought that came to mind when I read this story is the story that Bob Meyrowitz repeats over and over again, in which he claims that Lorenzo Fertitta was on board of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and that, somehow (according to Meyrowitz), Fertitta wouldn’t sanction UFC in Nevada and that this turn of events led to UFC being sold to the Fertittas for $2 million USD.

Here’s the actual story about how SEG came to sell the UFC to Zuffa, gathered from multiple issues of the Wrestling Observer, with edits made in brackets to fill in context or correct grammar, and with a timeline clarification courtesy of “Meyrowitz [former UFC president Bob Meyrowitz] would go to InDemand [the PPV company] and ask what he needed to do to get back on InDemand, and they said the UFC needed to get sanctioned [by a major sanctioning body]. He got sanctioned in New Jersey, and was basically told that he needed to get it sanctioned in Nevada, as that was the most influential athletic commission in the country. [Meyrowitz] set up a meeting in Las Vegas, and at the time, sanctioning was going to happen based on what inside sources were telling both Meyrowitz and InDemand. Suddenly, the night before the approval that was going to be the step to put the UFC back on the map, Meyrowitz was told that he was going to be voted down [the next day, when his request was scheduled to be voted on by the members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission]. He didn’t have the votes. He was also told that if he followed through the next day, and was voted down, he would never have an opportunity to be sanctioned. So, he pulled out, they created some cover reason as to why he was pulling his attempt at sanctioning, and basically he was screwed. Lorenzo Fertitta [the current co-owner of the UFC] was an influential member of the Nevada commission at the time. [Approximately one year later], Fertitta purchased the UFC [for $2 million], then got sanctioning in Nevada, and then got on PPV.”

Meanwhile, life apparently continues to be very good for Fertitta family members in Orange County (the ritzy Emerald Bay area):

Plans for one—116 Emerald Bay – call for an 8,924-square-foot home with an elevator, two basements opening out onto the beach, plus a pool and spa on the outside deck. The lowest level features a gym, theater, game room and a “wine alley.”

The kitchen upstairs will have a walk-in fridge, while the “great room” will have a bar, TV lounge and pizza oven. The master suite on the fourth level features a chamber called the “prayer room,” and the hall has a set of niches for votive candles. The home will have two garages with room for five cars. Indoors, it will have 11 bath or powder rooms, four bedrooms plus the master suite. Completion is expected in 2010.

Property records list the owners as Blake and Delise Sartini, sister and brother-in-law to Las Vegas Station Casino bosses Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. The couple declined through an intermediary to comment.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 14 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

14 Responses to “The Fertitta family and USA Capital”

  1. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    USA Capital is an interesting story. You could view it as the dead canary in the coal mine for the current economic crisis. You had an investment firm making relatively high interest short term loans (less than two years) to real estate developers (engineering / construction companies that would buy land, build on it, and turn around and sell it). The loans were collateralized by the real estate (fail to pay, the land any any partial or completed construction belonged to the investment company).

    All business as usual until the Nevada real estate market started it’s death spiral. The loans weren’t performing as well as they were projected to. The company started eating into current amounts to pay off investors (the amounts they were paying were exceeding the amounts they were receiving, some people are saying it was a Ponzi scheme, but that’s not entirely accurate).

    Everything went into bankruptcy, and a company purchased the right to collect the money on the loans that USA Capital was making.

    Some of the investors lost a lot of money, some didn’t. The courts will settle it eventually, but if there is a bright line between bundles of investment money received and bundles of loans made, it would still be reasonable for some investors to come out clean as long as the associated bundles of loans performed adequately (they were collateralized after all, and not every real estate developer failed to pay back, and some might have just paid back over differing terms, long time, lower interest than originally expected).

    But whenever one person loses money and another doesn’t, it goes to court and the usual allegations about conflicts of interest etc are all out there. It’s even got quasi-mob relationships thrown in the mix.

    Imagine how crazy this would have been if it had happened last week instead of two years ago.

  2. Procannonfodder says:

    The majority of this website’s news is of organizations other than the UFC, even though the UFC greatly dominates the market in America. Even better though, when you do a story on the industry leader, it is in my estimated guess that 3/4ths of the stories are negative. Everyone can of course have their own opinions and the following posters will no doubt flame me, but I wonder why that is? I have been an avid fan and one time a devastatingly failed competitor in an amatuer show for a long time now and unless it’s your goal to be provocative, it seems to me anyway that you are more likely to alienate your readers with this stance. No one wants a media source to rubber stamp any particular group or agenda but when you always fall on the same side such as the NYTimes and Republicans, you run the risk of losing your perspective as a journalist altogether. Having said that, and ignoring the much too prevalent boxing stories, this really is a good site and one of my must-reads everyday. I couldn’t care less about another story on wealthy connected Italians in Las Vegas, my imagination can fill in the blanks. How about an expose on Tom Atencio and his former lunatic partner or the widespread corruption alleged in all of the Japanese MMA community? Thank you

  3. ttt says:

    “How about an expose on Tom Atencio and his former lunatic partner or the widespread corruption alleged in all of the Japanese MMA community?”

    you clearly have not been reading this site long enough

  4. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    ttt, quite.

    This site spearheaded the corruption in Japanese MMA story.

  5. The Citizen says:

    @ Procannon, maybe check out some later posts on the Japanese MMA scene — its all here.

  6. ttt says:

    sorry i should have elaborated, zach was waving the flag before pride tanked. as for his negative attitude, it is not only against the ufc.

  7. Zach Arnold says:

    You know what we need? Someone to spend 3 or 4 years of their life covering every aspect of a major Japanese mafia scandal, only to get crapped on during the majority of that coverage by having people accuse the writer of lying and not knowing what they were talking about. If you can find someone like that, please let me know so I can have a chat with them. Thank you.


    Zach Arnold

  8. The Gaijin says:

    Procannonfodder’s comment is almost too good to be true… 🙂

  9. skwirrl says:


    Sorry thats all i can do. This guy BROKE the Japanese corruption story dude. Now he’s just playing fair game on the other side. I’ve posted multiple times about my beliefs that the Fertitta’s are dirtier than a Bunny Ranch gangbang… And Zack has always been there to provide a “fair and balanced,”(tm)(though I feel too soft,) view of their financial background.

  10. skwirrl says:

    ProCannonFodder is actually Donny7 cleverly pwning us all again.

  11. Procannonfodder says:

    In all of the replies, only one actually mentions the jist of my comment. It was a simple statement from a simple perspective, mine. I am a fan, I care about information regarding my sport. My OPINION is that this site, which I still enjoy, is adversely negative to the only ‘Mainstream’ MMA organization available to most simple fans like me. If your intention is to steer people away from the sport or to illegitimize the UFC then that is the impression that I have and you are successful. Congratulations. Maybe I stand corrected on my throw-away comment about corruption in Japanese MMA, though having read constantly for awhile now, I do not remember the same level of coverage applied to it that the other theme that I have mentioned gathers. Thank you again.

  12. skwirrl says:

    Maybe you didn’t get Zack’s comment. He spent a good 2 years of his life bashing PRIDE, (and being bashed in return,) for having ties to the Yakuza. Not to call you a johnny-come-lately but… If you say he’s anti UFC because his purpose is to illegitimize it for the sake of doing that… Well you’re a johnny come lately. Zack’s lifeblood has been reporting from angles you find nowhere else especially about the Japanese market. Nobody knows Jappo MMA like Zack and he was the first to take a knife to its throat when it went crime syndicate dirty.

    Zack calls em like he sees em and if he called the Fertitta’s on a business deal its probably because it was shady.

    You don’t know how many times he’s edited my comments to keep it respectful because I point out the Maceo crime family’s direct links to the Fertittas all too often.

  13. 45 Huddle says:

    I think it is safe the assume that most billionaires got their fortunes by leaving a pile of bodies (hopefully not literally), beneath them. That’s just how the way the world works, and us commoners can do little to change that.

  14. grafdog says:

    “That’s just how the way the world works, and us commoners can do little to change that.”
    No its not how the world works. Its not even how humanity works, its how criminals work to control the rest of humanity.

    Can’t do anything?
    #1 don’t buy their crummy product.
    #2 Expose them to your friends, see if they are still comfortable buying from criminals.
    #3 Create business models which don’t require the pile of bodies.
    Here’s some more dirt on the dirtita brothers.

    The History of the family behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship


    Before reading any further, please read our disclaimer first.

    In the January of 2001, the ailing reality fighting contest known as The Ultimate Fighting Championship, was purchased from its founder, the SEG CORPORATION by ZUFFA LLC. Three men, Frank Fertitta III, his younger brother Lorenzo Fertitta and their brother in law, the low profile but nonetheless powerful, Blake Sartini, are the owners of ZUFFA LLC.

    Read the rest at…


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