I-Team: Top nightclub operator accused of sexual harassment

LAS VEGAS -- The booming Las Vegas nightclub scene helped to keep the town afloat during the economic downturn, but a two-headed lawsuit filed in both federal and state court has raised troubling allegations.

It targets the treatment of the attractive young women who work in those high-end clubs. The case was argued Wednesday in federal court and the I-Team was there.

The nightclub business is now a billion dollar industry in Las Vegas, and no one has been more successful than the Light Group, which operates almost two dozen hotspots, day clubs and restaurants.

But a female employee has stepped forward to allege that women are treated like commodities by the club operators, passed around among managers and customers alike.

‘Moose Diesel' is the nightclub nickname for Mustafa Abdi, a former vice president of the Light Group, celebrity hobnobber and unabashed party professional now at the center of two lawsuits alleging a jaw-dropping array of sexual harassment, drug use, and debauchery that the plaintiff says was not only tolerated by management but was systemic.

The federal lawsuit was filed by a Jane Doe cocktail waitress still employed by the Light Group. It is a battle of the legal titans, pitting former federal prosecutor Don Campbell, the lawyer for the unnamed employee, versus celebrity super lawyer David Chesnoff, who represents the founder of the Light Group, Andrew Sasson.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the two sides jousted in federal court over several motions to determine how far Campbell could go in squeezing additional information out of Moose Diesel, and Diesel's former boss Sasson.

Campbell alleges both men engaged in ongoing sexual relations with female employees, that women who did not agree to have sex with managers and/or high-rolling customers were discriminated against, and that Diesel not only targeted the plaintiff with unwanted sexual advances but posted hundreds of messages, photos, and videos on social media of his interactions with dozens of other female employees, women he addressed as ‘sluts' and ‘whores.'

Campbell, who previously deposed Diesel and Andrew Sasson for seven hours each, asked for permission to grill both men again.

"They didn't answer my questions, and now they will have to answer my questions so I will get a few more hours," Campbell said.

The judge gave Campbell limited authority to depose the two men again. Among the exhibits in the case are news reports filed by the I-Team in 2011 regarding an earlier lawsuit by another Light Group cocktail server who made similar allegations. Her case was settled.

Sasson's attorney Dave Chesnoff told the I-Team, "My client employs thousands of people in Las Vegas, revolutionized the nightclub industry here, and has entertained millions of people. He looks forward to defending his reputation in court."

Andrew Sasson is not named as a defendant in either of the lawsuits but his company is named in both, one in federal court and the other in state court.

As a matter of disclosure, Don Campbell once represented George Knapp in a First Amendment case stemming from a newspaper column he wrote.


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