The law firm representing Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is preparing to file a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a former state senator alleging that the public benefit corporation illegally provided health insurance to its directors and improperly distributed tickets to sporting events.
That’s the word from WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek this morning after the monthly board meeting at the Park Road facility.
“That’s right,” Wojtaszek replied when asked by The Batavian on whether filing a motion to dismiss the suit brought by George Maziarz was going to be the first order of business for lawyers at Hodgson Russ LLP of Buffalo. “We don’t believe it’s brought in properly, either substantively or procedurally. So we’re going to make a motion to dismiss right away.
In mid-May, Maziarz, a state senator from Niagara County for 10 years until 2014, met with local media across the street from Batavia Downs Gaming to provide details of his lawsuit – an action that focuses on accusations of misuse of sporting events and concert tickets and the legality of the “gold-plated” health insurance granted to appointed board members.
An audit from the New York State Comptroller’s Office criticized WROTB for handling tickets and using a company vehicle from 2018-19, but Wojtaszek said those issues have been addressed and corrected .
Wojtaszek argues that Maziarz is waging a personal vendetta against him and the WROTB in retaliation for Maziarz’s conviction for public corruption while in office.
The company’s board this morning approved a deal to pay Hodgson Russ up to $25,000 to fight the lawsuit.
Hodgson Russ is also representing WROTB in a $14.5 million wrongful termination lawsuit filed last August by Michael Nolan, the former chief operating officer of WROTB who was fired from his position in December 2020.
“We’re just waiting for the judge to rule on the motions that are before him right now,” Wojtaszek said today. “We expect (this will happen) in three to six months.”
In further developments, Wojtaszek reported:
- The schedule for the Park Road reconstruction project is “going very well – we still expect them to complete the project around the end of September, beginning of October”.
He said the traffic pattern could change soon, adding that Ryan Hasenauer, chief marketing officer, will be sure to let the public know in advance.
“We met with the contractor, CATCO, yesterday and the City of Batavia, and efforts could be made to open up two-way traffic at certain points on Park Road to ease some of the traffic jams and also make it easier to get around. .the project and finish it faster,” he said.
Wojtaszek said officials plan to open the road to two-way traffic from the Richmond Avenue intersection (near Alex’s Place) and north to Veterans Memorial Drive within the next two weeks.
“The city needs to check with everyone involved, including emergency services and the DOT (Department of Transportation) to make sure this can be accomplished. But again, we like to move on to the next phase where we may have reopened traffic in both directions and another part of the road is completely closed. »
- The “chances are good” that the track’s harness racing season will be extended through January and February 2023 as negotiations with the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association are underway.
“We have a good relationship with the Cavaliers in Western New York,” he said. “They presented us with a very reasonable plan for the race to take place here at Batavia Downs. So the board is inclined to organize the races in January and February and we only have to work out the details of the contract.
The 2022 racing season is scheduled to start on July 20 and was originally scheduled to run until December 17 (with racing two or three nights a week). Earlier, Wojtaszek reported that the WNYHHA would reimburse Batavia Downs for operating costs in the first two months of next year.
- WROTB is looking to streamline its off-track betting branches, likely going from the current 10 across the region to perhaps seven or eight. In a similar vein, the company is considering a takeover bid for the Military Road branch in Niagara Falls and will soon put the West Ridge Road branch in Rochester on the market.
“We now have a lot of EZ Bets and we have our machines in different bars and restaurants which helps reduce the need for large scale branches,” Wojtaszek said.
- The company plans to hire an insurance consultant following the increase in premiums.
The board approved a resolution to pay Garland Insurance & Financial Services $1,089,824 for property and casualty liability insurance for one year, through June 1, 2023. Wojtaszek said the premium increased by approximately 7% compared to the previous year.
“The insurance industry has grown, overall. We know it’s a very difficult environment, but the increase has been substantial,” he said. “So, yes, we would like someone else is looking at it and trying to help us with the insurance.”
Previously: Ex-state senator with own corruption history sues Batavia Downs for bribery
Previously: WROTB’s Genesee County director sees ‘no basis’ for Nolan’s lawsuit against company, president, board chairman