Draft Audit Says NYRA Short in Payments, Fees

A draft audit by New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi found the New York Racing Association has come up short in payments to purses and state franchise fees.

The Albany Times Union reported July 31 the shortages came at a time when NYRA was pumping more than $500,000 into a special retirement plan for some of its top officers. The final audit by Hevesi is not expected to be released until late August or September.

The draft audit, the newspaper said, faults NYRA for overspending, lacking budget documentation, and giving money from the retirement plan for top officers while failing to repay loans or to enhance purses. Hevesi reportedly wants NYRA to get back $52,000 in payments it made in 2000 and 2001 to Kenneth Noe Jr., the former NYRA chairman.

It is unclear why Hevesi wants the funds, which came from an employee retirement account, returned to NYRA. The draft audit found that NYRA gave 26 people a total of $250,000 from the retirement fund in 2000, most of it to three people, the newspaper reported. It did not say, beside Noe, who benefited.

The draft audit also claims NYRA owes at least $11.1 million over two years, mostly in state franchise fees that should be routed to the New York State Thoroughbred Racing Capital Investment Fund.

NYRA has been battling a stinging report by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer that alleged a host of criminal acts by NYRA employees and shoddy management controls to uncover and stop the abuses. Federal prosecutors have also been examining NYRA for more than two years. In response, NYRA has hired a high-priced law firm and security consulting firm.