Guilty NYRA Clerks Fired

The New York Racing Association has announced it has terminated the 16 pari-mutuel employees who pleaded guilty this week to charges relating to federal tax fraud. These pleas resulted from a federal investigation with which NYRA has been coopertating since it began.

The 16 employees of the New York Racing Association pleaded guilty to filing false federal income tax returns, New York Newsday reported June 26. Federal prosecutors believe there has been mass tax evasion for more than 20 years by NYRA employees.

NYRA chairman and chief executive officer Barry Schwartz said, "NYRA's management and board take very seriously the issues raised by the guilty pleas. Before NYRA learned of the government's investigation two years ago, we revised our policies and procedures in order to better monitor the activities of our clerks to prevent the conduct that formed the basis for the guilty pleas from happening in the future.

"As a result of those changes, we believe we have effectively eliminated this conduct, and we remain resolute in our unwavering commitment to the integrity of racing and ensuring that our customers continue to enjoy the highest quality horse racing in the country."

Three of the employees who work as pari-mutuel clerks or as "dealers" who dispense cash to tellers pleaded guilty June 25 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, N.Y., the newspaper reported. Thirteen others pleaded guilty in previously sealed proceedings during the past year, according to Alan Vinegrad, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District.

Vinegrad said the investigation is continuing.

Newsday said the thrust of the tax-evasion scheme involved workers taking between $9,000 to $25,000 a year for their personal expenses, and then having track officials give them statements saying that they were missing the money at the end of the day, Vinegrad said.