Police Investigating Checks Written by Former Guild President

The Jockeys' Guild has issued a statement that former Guild president Wayne Gertmenian issued checks totaling $217,000 to himself, his Matrix Capital Associates, and former Guild vice president Albert Fiss. The checks were allegedly issued and processed at a Monrovia, Calif., Bank of America the same day Guild members voted to terminate their relationship with Gertmenian and Matrix, Nov. 15.

"It is the view of the Guild that the funds were stolen and that a crime occurred," said Shane Gusman, an associate from the office of Barry Broad, who was appointed temporary Guild counsel on a volunteer basis after the management change. "Obviously, now it is up to law enforcement to make that decision."

Lt. Richard Wagnon of the Monrovia Police Department confirmed an investigation is underway after police were called by representatives of the Guild. "It may be embezzlement or it may be something they were entitled to," he said.

The Los Angeles District Attorney will determine at the conclusion of the investigation if enough evidence is present to file criminal charges and issue arrest warrants

Controls were put in place concerning the Guild's finances Nov. 8, prohibiting the issuance of any checks in excess of $200 without the expressed written permission of Guild treasurer Jeff Johnston. Not included in the controls were the direct payments to disabled jockeys.

"Regardless of the fact, they were terminated," Gusman said. "Mr. Gertmenian and his associates were aware of the financial controls that had been put into place, and they had been operating within those controls."

Interim Guild national manager Darrell Haire, who the new Guild board appointed as Gertmenian's replacement Tuesday, said routine checks written from the Guild to disabled riders about a week ago bounced, suggesting the general account from which those checks are paid was empty.The checks cleared a few days later.

"On Monday, money was back in the account--a substantial amount," Haire said. "Now we're trying to get a grasp on it because we don't know how many checks he (Gertmenian) has written. But we know he hasn't been paying bills for the last two months. Now we're getting all of these bills coming in that haven't been paid. Even the lease on the Guild's office hasn't been paid."