NYRA Names New Executives

Ellen McClain named as new president, replacing Charles Hayward.

With its operations under fire, the New York Racing Association moved today to name new top executives to run the racing group in the midst of a possible criminal probe by the state over its takeout scandal.

Current NYRA chief operating officer Ellen McClain was tapped the afternoon of May 14 by the board as NYRA’s new president, replacing Charles Hayward, who was recently fired after state regulators suggested he had knowledge that NYRA failed to follow state law over takeout rates.

Earlier in the day the board also named Kenneth Handal as NYRA’s new secretary, acting general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer.

According to a NYRA release, Handal is an expert in corporate ethics and compliance, governance, and risk management, with almost 40 years of experience as an attorney. He most recently served as president of governance, risk, and compliance for Guidepost Solutions, an investigation, compliance, monitoring, and risk management solutions company.

Previously, Handal was the executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of CA Technologies (formerly Computer Associates), which he joined in 2004. He later headed up the company’s global risk and compliance group.

“This is a critical period for New York racing,” said McClain in a release. “NYRA is a $2 billion racing and wagering company, and we must operate with the highest standards and practices in the areas of corporate compliance, governance, risk management, and internal controls. Ken is a crucial addition to the NYRA senior management team and has the expertise to help guide our company through the current crisis and beyond.”

NYRA is under investigation to determine what officials may have known about not following the terms of a state law that required the track group to lower the takeout level on exotic bets. Auditors with state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office caught the mistake that NYRA did not lower the rate by 1% to 25% for 15 months after being required to do so by state law. The higher takeout cost bettors more than $8.5 million.

Charles Hayward was fired by the NYRA board as its president and Patrick Kehoe as counsel after an interim report by the state Racing and Wagering Board suggested the two former officials knew the takeout rate had not been properly adjusted. Hayward has denied any wrongdoing.At CA, Handal oversaw the company’s compliance with its deferred prosecution agreement concerning conduct prior to 2004. Prior to joining CA, Handal was associate general counsel and compliance counsel for Altria, then the parent company of Philip Morris, Kraft Foods, and Miller Beer.

Handal was also a partner with the law firm of Arnold & Porter, an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Criminal Division, and also served as a law clerk to Judge Robert Ainsworth Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Handal currently serves on the Board of Advisors and audit and compliance committee of the Hospital for Special Surgery. He earned his law degree from The University of Chicago Law School, where he was managing editor of the Law Review, and his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.