Former HBPA President to Fight Allegations

The former president of the Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said he would fight charges leveled by the current Charles Town HBPA board of directors over alleged unauthorized loans and purchases while he was in office.

Dick Watson served as president of the horsemen's association through January 2004. Ann Hilton unseated him in a December 2003 election, and Watson's wife, Janene, was replaced as executive director of the local HBPA chapter.

The suit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court in West Virginia, contains a laundry list of allegations against Watson, including claims he made loans to himself without HBPA approval. It also alleges he entered into a membership contract with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in violation of state law.

Watson, whose tenure as HBPA president coincided with the growth of the racing program at Charles Town Races & Slots with addition of gaming in the late 1990s, said he hired an attorney who answered the points in the suit. The case awaits a hearing.

"In the long run, I think I will prevail," he said.

Hilton, who took over as president in early January, has been on a leave of absence for several months.