U.S. Attorney Begins Search for NYRA Monitor

The U.S. Attorney's Office is seeking someone to oversee the recently indicted New York Racing Association, which can avoid prosecution on the indictment if its monitor says it has stayed clean.

The New York Law Journal will carry an advertisement by the U.S. Attorney's office, which seeks to hire a court-appointed monitor to oversee the operations of the NYRA during the next 18 months.

NYRA, indicted last week on conspiracy and fraud charges for its role in illegal activities of its employees, will be able to keep its franchise if it abides by certain conditions and enacts certain reforms during an 18-month monitoring period. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which led the NYRA investigation, is now looking for someone to lead the monitoring. The individual would need final approval by a federal judge.

Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn, said submissions by interested candidates are due by Jan. 2, indicating the office wants someone on board quickly to begin checking up on NYRA to see if it is abiding by the terms of the deal made with prosecutors.

A host of names are already floating around as possible candidates. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has reportedly offered to do the job pro bono. But his former police commissioner and friend, Howard Safir, is a NYRA consultant. Moreover, Giuliani and NYRA have long feuded. When the National Thoroughbred Racing Association last year turned to Giuliani to do a review of the industry's electronic wagering system, NYRA officials were a bit skeptical about the move.

Another name mentioned by insiders is former New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, now a lawyer in private practice in Manhattan. Cuomo, during his three terms, had many battles with NYRA leaders.

In the law journal advertisement, the U.S. Attorney's office states that it wants an individual or office with a background in legal, auditing and investigative skills. Among the duties will be "to deter and report upon unethical or illegal conduct'' by NYRA. It says that NYRA will pay for the monitor. The monitor will report directly to state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who earlier this year issued a scathing report on NYRA's operations.