Report Says Terms Set For Sale of Turf Paradise

Report Says Terms Set For Sale of Turf Paradise
Turf Paradise, the Phoenix track whose majority owner has had his license revoked.
Regulators in Arizona have reportedly set the terms under which Jeremy "Jerry" Simms is to divest his majority ownership interest in Turf Paradise racetrack.

The Arizona Republic reported that the officials are negotiating with Simms for him to give up day-to-day control of the track and sell it within six months, possibly to his brother, Ronald Simms. Until Simms sells his ownership in the Phoenix track, he will place his interest in a blind trust under the plan, according to the newspaper.

"He immediately needs to get out of the management and control of the track," Steve Hart, director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, reportedly told the paper.

After paying $53 million for his interest in Turf Paradise last year, Simms undertook a $5-million renovation of the track.

Earlier this year, the Arizona Department of Racing revoked Simms' license, citing his alleged ties to organized crime and involvement in a California bribery scandal, according to the Republic.

The newspaper reported that the state has spent about $100,000 in legal fees to outside attorney Fred Petti to handle closed-door negotiations with Simms' attorney, Gerald Alston.

The Department of Racing granted Simms a license in May 2000. The Republic reported the investigation revealed a $2.2-million series of loans from Simms to former casino owner Allen Glick, whom federal authorities said had ties to organized crime. The department's handling of the Simms affair reportedly led to the dismissal of Racing Department director Jim Higginbottom.

Brian Callaghan, a gaming investigator, said in a memo to his boss that racing officials overlooked serious problems in Simms' background before licensing him to operate the state's largest non-Indian wagering business, the Republic has previously reported. According to the newspaper, Callaghan concluded that racing officials were "very lenient" in finding Simms and his partnership, TP Racing LLLP, suitable as owners.

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