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Arnold M. Knightly

Hard Rock executive found dead

10 March 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The top executive of the Hard Rock Hotel was found dead in his Summerlin home Tuesday morning, the hotel and the state's top gaming regulator confirmed.

Las Vegas police Lt. George Castro told The Associated Press on Tuesday a person was found dead of a gunshot wound inside the home of Hard Rock Hotel President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Kwasniewski. He did not confirm whether the person was Kwasniewski.

Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander, however, said Tuesday afternoon that he was notified by attorneys for Hard Rock's owners, Morgans Hotel Group, that Kwasniewski had died.

The Hard Rock Hotel also issued a statement saying, "We are extremely saddened by the loss of Randy, and our hearts and prayers go out to the family. We do not know any further details at this time."

Metropolitan Police public information officer Bill Cassell said police responded to a call at a residence in the northwest part of the valley around 9:50 a.m., but would not verify the call came from Kwasniewski's residence.

The caller said an individual had possibly suffered a gunshot wound. A deceased individual was found upon the police's arrival.

"This individual did suffer from an apparent gunshot wound and our investigation is ongoing," Cassell said.

Kwasniewski, 55, had been in his current position at the Hard Rock Hotel since New York-based boutique hotel operator Morgans Hotel Group bought the resort in February 2007.

He had been overseeing a $750 million expansion that added two new hotel towers, additional casino space and a larger concert hall to the property.

Morgans Chief Executive Officer Fred Kleisner issued a statement late Tuesday that expressed sorrow at the passing of Kwasniewski, whom he'd known since 1995.

"He was not just one of my colleagues and a leader of our company," Kleisner's statement said. "He was my friend. I know few hotel and casino executives who have the knowledge, focus and work ethic that Randy possessed. I will miss him. All of us at Morgans are deeply saddened by the passing of Randy. I know I speak for everyone when I say we all mourn his loss. Randy was a dedicated husband and father, a friend to many of us and a valued colleague. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family."

Kwasniewski was vice president of operations of the Hard Rock Hotel from January 2004 until May 2005 for previous owner Peter Morton. He also spent time as an executive for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Starwood Capital Group.