Proposed Indiana Racetrack May Be Fined $1.2M

Indianapolis Downs, a racetrack under construction in Indiana, could be fined $1.2 million by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for failure to disclose details about a consultant and lobbyist. An attorney for the association denied the allegations.

The Indianapolis Star reported the commission investigation revealed that lobbyist Larry Mohr of Carmel, Ind., allegedly made telephone calls to commission member Janet Bozzelli and had dinner with Bozzelli and commission member Nick Stein in May 2001 during a three-day period in which the racing commission was considering the license application of Indianapolis Downs.

"Any suggestions that anything was designed to hide something is simply false and misguided," attorney Robert Hammerle told the Star. A commission hearing will be sought, Hammerle said.

At this point, the $1.2-million fine is a recommendation from the staff to the members of the racing commission.

Joe Gorajec, executive director of the racing commission, said the meetings took place when Mohr was not listed as an Indianapolis Downs representative in any of the association's paperwork, even though Mohr had been paid $71,000 in 2000 and 2001 for consulting services.

"The reputation and the image of the commission can be tarnished when an individual who has an interest in an ongoing permit proceeding, as Mr. Mohr did, communicates outside of the 'public view' with a commissioner," Gorajec wrote in an executive summary of his investigation.

Hammerle told the Star that Mohr is a longtime friend of Bozzelli and Stein, and they often speak to each other on issues not related to racing.

Indianapolis Downs, to be located in Shelby County southeast of Indianapolis, is scheduled to open this December for Standardbred racing and full-card simulcasting. Thoroughbred racing could be added at a later date.