Tag: OTB

Aug 21

2022

If Henry Wojtaszek was Pinocchio

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Here’s the latest recommended reading – and this week, viewing – from Jim Heaney. Subscribe to his Sunday email newsletter and you’ll get the news a day earlier, along with a recap of Investigative Post’s reporting from the previous week. Updated: 12:22 p.m. Henry Wojtaszek, the embattled CEO of the embattled Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., took the unusual step of answering questions from a reporter last week. He appeared Wednesday on WGRZ’s 5:30 p.m. newscast. Michael Wooten asked the right questions and Wojtaszek, well, let’s just say if he was Pinocchio, his nose would have been very long by the[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Jul 20

2022

Hardwick demands answers from OTB

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For the first time, one of the governments that owns the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is demanding answers about the agency’s management practices and business dealings. Erie County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick sent two letters this week to Henry Wojtaszek, OTB’s president and CEO. One letter posed a series of questions about the agency’s practice of providing top-shelf health insurance to board members, despite repeated warnings that doing so is impermissible. It’s a subject Investigative Post has covered extensively, in more than two dozen stories published over four years.  Hardwick’s other letter raised questions about OTB’s sale of land to[...]

Posted 5 months ago

Jun 9

2022

OTB reform bills stall in state Legislature

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After state auditors criticized the handling of public funds and resources at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., a pair of Democratic state lawmakers sponsored legislation in hopes of changing the way the public benefit corporation operates.  The reform measures — sponsored by state Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, D-Lancaster, and state Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo — were not approved by the state Legislature before the end of this year’s session that concluded Saturday. Kennedy’s bills passed the Senate, but not the Assembly. Wallace’s bill never got out of committee in the Assembly. Wallace said she plans to submit a revised version of[...]

Posted 6 months ago

Jun 6

2022

OTB tries to stifle a critic

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Jim Shultz has gotten under the skin of Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. Wojtaszek ostensibly works for a 17-member board of directors appointed by 15 counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester, but in reality, he has a free rein over OTB operations. And he’s apparently sicced one of his many lawyers on Shultz. Hodgson Russ is one of four law firms OTB presently has on retainer. As we reported last week, OTB over the past year has spent $333,684 for assorted legal services, much of it dealing with investigators probing claims[...]

Posted 6 months ago

Jun 2

2022

OTB paying for an army of lawyers, lobbyists

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Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. continues to spend big bucks – large amounts of public money, that is – on attorneys and lobbyists.  Documents obtained by Investigative Post through a Freedom of Information request show OTB paid $333,684 to four Buffalo-based law firms between May 18, 2021, and April 1 of this year.  The legal fees are in addition to the $16,500 per month OTB pays to Albany lobbyists currently under contract.  What the lobbyists are doing for the money can be gleaned from documents on file with a state regulatory commission. But the bills submitted by two of OTB’s[...]

Posted 6 months ago

May 16

2022

Attorney General’s inaction on OTB

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Last fall, an attorney representing New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli asked Attorney General Letitia James to take yet another look at the gold-plated health insurance Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is still providing to its part-time board directors.  The comptroller’s referral, made in September, called on the attorney general’s Taxpayer Protection Bureau to take “appropriate action,” noting that DiNapoli’s office deemed the practice “impermissible” in keeping with a prior attorney general’s opinion that “unambiguously” stated the same.  It’s now been nearly eight months since the referral was made.  What has the attorney general’s Taxpayers Protection Bureau done in that[...]

Posted 7 months ago

May 11

2022

Maziarz sues OTB alleging “fraud”

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Updated on Thursday, May 12, at 5:25 p.m. Former New York State Sen. George Maziarz wants a judge to order  officials from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. to reimburse taxpayers for benefits he says they improperly obtained while using the public agency as a “slush fund, an ATM [and] a piggy bank.”  OTB leaders, meanwhile, want Maziarz to shut up. In a lawsuit filed Saturday in state Supreme Court in Erie County, Maziarz alleges that the misuse of public resources by OTB higher-ups has prevented the agency’s “massive revenues” from being “fairly distributed to the municipalities and taxpayers it serves.” [...]

Posted 7 months ago

Mar 10

2022

More OTB reforms in state legislature

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Another state lawmaker wants to cut the perks for Off-Track Betting officials in Western New York. Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, D-Lancaster, has introduced legislation that would stop any OTB board member from receiving any benefits, including health insurance, not authorized under state law. Her bill would also require regional OTB offices to file annual reports with the state gaming commission that itemize the purchase and use of any promotional item — including sporting event or concert tickets — valued at more than $50. While the measures would cover all five regional OTB operations in New York, they are clearly targeted to[...]

Posted 9 months ago