Three of the the five people named as trustees of the New York Racing Association by Gov. George Pataki each contributed $25,000 to Pataki's re-election campaign before they were appointed in 1998.
One of the conditions attached to the extension of the NYRA franchise in 1997 was that the governor be given more oversight on the NYRA board by selecting five more trustees, which gave him six of the total of 28. According to a story published in the Sunday Gazette of Schenectady, N.Y. on Oct. 29, three of the appointees, Chester Broman, Joseph Cornacchia and Stuart Subotnick, contributed $25,000 to the Friends of Pataki, the governor's campaign committee.
The Gazette story ran one month after the three NYRA tracks were raided by the Organized Crime Task Force of the state attorney general's office as part of an investigation in money laundering at the track. Chairman and Kenny Noe Jr. announced his retirement Oct. 11.
Federal officials are also investigating the activities of some NYRA mutuel clerks. One of the clerks, who was issued a subpoena, committed suicide on Oct. 13.
An analysis of campaign disclosure reports by the newspaper showed that current NYRA trustees and executives of the non-profit association donated $636,000 to state politicians in the past six years, including $208,000 to Friends of Pataki.
Broman, Cornacchia and Subotnick, all of whom race horses in New York, made their contributions in July 1998. Cornacchia was named to the board two months later, while Broman and Subotnick were appointed in December. Subotnick, a top executive in the Metromedia Group, had made a $28,000 contribution to the Pataki re-election campaign in January, 1998. Previously, none of the three had been a significant donor to the governor.
A fourth appointee, Charles Palombini, made no contributions, but is from the governor's hometown of Peekskill and is the treasurer of Friends of Pataki. Owner-breeder Albert Fried, long active in the racing industry, had a history of donating to Pataki, but never for more than $5,000. The final Pataki appointee., James Heffernan, contributed $1,500 to Pataki.