New Jersey Superior Court Judge Alexander Lehrer ruled Jan. 5 that the New Jersey Racing Commission's allegations of fiscal mismanagement against the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association were without legal merit, and that the commission cannot amend its complaint to include a claim against New Jersey THA counsel Dennis Drazin, specifically for the legal fees paid to him.
The allegations made against Drazin were part of a motion seeking permission to file a complaint that raised broader allegations against the New Jersey THA board of directors and officers for mismanagement of association funds. The motion claimed the THA paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to Drazin, and used funds that should have gone to backstretch employees on airline travel, hotel rooms, dinners for legislators, charitable gifts, office improvements, and computers.
A "forensic auditor" was hired by the racing commission to explore the New Jersey THA's finances, a move Drazin called a "retaliatory measure" because of passage of legislation that will allow him to take a seat on a reconfigured racing commission.
Lehrer also approved all of Drazin's previous legal bills and termed them "more than reasonable." Because of the complexity of the motion, Lehrer chose to hear only those portions that dealt with Drazin at a hearing held in Superior Court Dec. 26.
Said Drazin, a Thoroughbred owner and breeder: "I am very pleased with the judge's decision. Horse racing is my passion. It is what I choose to dedicate my time and energies to beyond my family and law office. All of my efforts--past, present, and future--are to preserve a competitive live racing program in New Jersey for both breeds of racehorses."