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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nothing to Remember

I wrote the other day about the sharp memory that the prosecution witnesses in the Joe Bruno trial seem to have. And on Wednesday, Wayne Barr, a former NYRA board member and business partner of Jared Abbruzzese (and of Bruno in a breeding partnership), testified that he clearly remembered that he could not remember - and in fact, never really knew - exactly what it was that the former Senate Majority Leader actually did to earn those hundreds of thousands in consulting dollars from companies owned or controlled by Abbruzzese.

It was on Mr. Abbruzzese’s orders, according to testimony offered by witnesses on Wednesday, that Motient and TerreStar hired Mr. Bruno, granting him lucrative retainers worth thousands of dollars a month.

Mr. Abbruzzese also paid Mr. Bruno $100,000 through two other businesses he ran, Capital and Technology Advisors and Communication Technology Advisors, according to evidence and testimony.

Yet Mr. Abbruzzese’s partner, Wayne Barr Jr., could not describe what Mr. Bruno did for the companies. “I am not aware of it,” he testified.
His final contract, with TerreStar, began in July 2005. But officials there were unclear at the time about what Mr. Bruno’s duties would be.

“Do you know anything that Senator Bruno does?” Mr. Macklin wrote to Christopher W. Downie, a senior executive. Mr. Downie forwarded the e-mail message to Mr. Abbruzzese.

“Need some help here pls,” he wrote. [NY Times]
The prosecution is attempting to tie the lucrative consulting gigs to the grants totaling $500,000 that Bruno secured for Abbruzzese's Evident Technologies, payments considered to be highly unusual in the case of for-profit companies as I detailed here at the time.

I suppose the fact that Abbruzzese later sought the NY racing franchise for Empire Racing is not relevant to this particular case. However, a horse that Bruno sold to Abbruzzese is.
The horse deal came into focus Wednesday when prosecutors called witnesses who testified that a horse Abbruzzese purchased from Bruno for $80,000 was practically worthless. Prosecutors allege Abbruzzese paid an inflated price to make up for Bruno's being terminated from the payroll of Motient Corp. in August 2005, two months into a six-month contract that could have netted him an additional $80,000. [Albany Times-Union]
- The Queens Courier reports today that NYRA is apparently trying to bag the Aqueduct Flea Market....again. A couple of years ago, NYRA claimed that there was not enough parking to accommodate the market.
“There just won’t be room for it,” said Dan Silver, a NYRA spokesman. “It was a nice thing to have, but the importance of Video Lottery Terminals to New York racing and New York State as a whole dwarfs any money generated from the flea market.” [Queens Courier]
Of course, that's easy for him to say; he's not struggling to make a living wage by peddling goods in a parking lot. Seems as if the local Community Board is not sympathetic to the flea market either, citing a counterfeit goods raid in 2004 (well, it is a flea market after all), and the clutter.
“Anyone who goes past Rockaway Boulevard after the market shuts down can see the absolute mess left there at the end of the day."
Actually, the mess fits in rather well with the decrepit racing plant that sits behind it; not to mention the filthy netting that separates it from the adjacent Home Depot.

- Still no agreement on Governor Paterson's deficit reduction plan, and the governor today proposed that lawmakers are too scared to make the spending cuts necessary to address the fiscal crisis that threatens the state's ability to pay its bills next month. [Daily Politics] He singled out Senate Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger and his contention that the state could collect some $1.6 billion a year by collecting taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations.

I'm going far beyond the normal scope of this blog here, but feel compelled to point out the following. The other day, Elizabeth Benjamin linked to Richard Lipsky's Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog, where it was claimed that Kruger's stance was backed up by testimony in 2005 by Deputy Commissioner William Comiskey of the State Department of Taxation and Finance that the Indian retail outlets bought 47 million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in that year alone. Based on that figure, Lipsky did some math to claim that Kruger is right, and he proceeded to ridicule the governor and members of the press who blithely dismissed his contentions out of hand. However, Lipsky conveniently ignored testimony by Comiskey just last month (pdf), in which he noted that the sales have declined every year since then, and that the "final sales for 2009 will reflect a continued decline." Comiskey went on to note that the state could have collected $825 million, half of Kruger's claim, if every pack had been stamped and taxed. However, he went on to explain (on page 4 of the abovelinkedto document if you're interested) why the actual amount would be far, far less; under $100 million annually in fact. Sorry for the tangent, but just wanted to set the record straight.


Anonymous said...

Any word on your AG going after Swiss account holders that are being outed by UBS and others. I would think a large percent of them are probably Wall Sreet types who could go a long way in cutting your deficit(back taxes,interest and penalties.)

Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

Alan, good that you mentioned this sensitive issue. Paterson's pro-Indian tobacco stance is too much, considering his budget agenda, & his supporting up to 3 new Indian licenses for the Catskills for votes, is another strangely timed decision, esp' considering an unresolved Aqueduct.
20 Nov '09, today.

………“It’s very difficult when the governor won’t budge — when the governor refuses to consider taxing the Native American sales on cigarettes or refinancing tobacco bonds, which are two items that we suggested,” Stavisky said. “When Dr. No says no to everything, then it becomes very difficult...

Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

No doubt Alan will scribe a blog, on the public domain, 3rd party, wink wink, nudge nudge, payoffs, from SL Green to a very select few board members, of the Empire Group, should they win.

20 Nov '09

Trouble now is, that already, a few of financially grieved Empire Group, having been excluded from SLG's original, closed door, wink, wink & being originally a who's who of equine interests, including breeders and owners, along with Magna Entertainment, Churchill Downs, Woodbine Entertainment, and Delaware North, are set to now financially cripple SL Green should they win.

I know of 2 immediate furious parties, presently consulting with their legals.

May make their Hard Rock, Seminole issue, seem like a peace-pipe séance

Steve Zorn said...

One of those apparently excluded from the SL Green payoff list is Dennis Brida, former trainer, director of the NY Thorouyghbred Horsemen's ass'n and the NY Thoroughbred Breeders and, to his detriment, one of the few people in Empire Racing who understood the on-the-ground reality of the business. Besides that, Dennis is just a thoroughly nice guy. Last I sae, he was managing a deli on the Saratoga-Schuylerville road. If anyone should get some compensation out of this debacle, it's him.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love least he bought a golf membership from Trump, after dicussing Trump's hair...

And what's up with Jerry Bilinski - another Bruno friend. We received the ballot for the NY Breeders today -- along with a political ad from Bilinski asking for our votes - just how arrogant are these people ???

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Abbruzzese, is he still a part of the Empire Racing residual that folded into SL Green?

Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned, nice guy or not, none of the Empire investors deserve a dime.

They sold out the rank and file membership in a scheme to profit for themselves.

They threw the support of the horseman's organization behind one entity, Empire, a group in which some of them had a financial interest, clearly an ethical violation if I ever saw one.

The NY Horseman's group should have had a prime seat at the table as an interested independent party negotiating on behalf of all Horsemen, instead they lost all credibility when the board members ignored their fiduciary responsibility and backed one of the bidders.

So no tears being cried here for any of them, they were either part of the scheme or if not, failed to protect the interests of their membership by siding with their other board members in supporting Empire.

Disgruntled NY Horseman

Anonymous said...

No. All indications are that Abbruzzesse left that deal back in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Abbruzzese was booted out of Empire three years ago. See story: Empire Racing severs connection to early investor Abbruzzese

Anonymous said...

It is well known in Albany, that Jared Abbruzzese and former Empire Racing associate and best pal, Jeff Perlee, (a former New York State Lottery Executive),
are actively involved in SL Green's team, headed by their pal, Marc Holliday, openly lobbying and working actively, in the background, to secure a win understandably, for their team.

However, I am sure Speaker Silver will not be too happy, with Abbruzzese's outbursts, in the witness stand yesterday -

"He started talking about Sheldon Silver and how Sheldon Silver, was getting paid $40-, $50-, $60,000 a month from the Trial Lawyers Association," Abbruzzese told prosecutors.

Speaking at Bruno's federal corruption trial, Jared Abbruzzese said the former Senate majority leader, 'launched a consulting deal with Abbruzzese on a flight home from a Florida golfing trip'.

Albany Observer

Anonymous said...

Abbruzzese may have been booted out of Empire Racing but we know he has never severed his connections to SL Green and Marc Holliday. Jared has been heard around town bragging about his % ownership in the SL Green bid. He does like to be the big man around this town. Just look at how he performed in the court room this past week in the Joe Bruno trial.

Since Delaware North split from Empire and SL Green, Perlee and Abbruzzese have been working secretly in Albany for SL Green’s bid for the Aqueduct VLT Franchise. They have spent their time destroying Delaware North and other bidders

So the big question is why would Abbruzzese do this for SL Green? Albany Observer says he is a pal of Holliday. We now know Perlee is getting a big payment if SL Green wins the Aqueduct VLT Franchise this time

No one here would believe Abbruzzese is doing this dirty work for SL Green unless he is or will be rewarded handsomely.

Disgusted in Albany