Capital Region OTB Founder Sentenced

Davis Etkin, founder and longtime president of the Capital Region Off-track Betting Corp. in upstate New York, was sentenced to two years in jail and fined $100,000 for misusing public funds and attempting to bribe a witness in a grand jury investigation.

Etkin, 72, received jail time from Judge Guy P. Tomlinson in Schenectady County court on July 14 despite a plea for leniency from attorney Stephen J. Coffey, who said Etkin has medical problems, including high blood pressure.

The sentencing brought to an ignominious end the career of the flamboyant Etkin, who built Capital OTB from one branch in the city of Schenectady in 1972 to a public benefit corporation with locations in 16 counties with an annual handle exceeding $200 million. While he was a nationally known innovator in the off-track betting business, Etkin was criticized locally through the years for excessive use of OTB funds for national and international travel and personal expenses, and for sponsoring a free professional tennis tournament in Schenectady.

Etkin was removed from office in January 1998 after a report by the state Racing and Wagering Board found $4.3 million in questionable spending. Prior to the sentencing, Etkin attempted to withdraw his guilty pleas of Feb. 28. Tomlinson rejected the request and imposed the jail time and fine. As part of his plea bargain, Etkin agreed to repay $100,000 in restitution to Capital OTB. Etkin was taken into custody after the sentencing, but was later released on $50,000 bail while he pursues an appeal.