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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Procurement controversies -- New York State

Federal prosecutors looking into Aqueduct deal

Federal prosecutors have begun a review of the lucrative award to run a sprawling new casino at a downstate racetrack.

Aqueduct Entertainment Group, a consortium of gambling, construction and individuals with Democratic Party ties, was tapped to run a 4,500-slot casino at Aqueduct Racetrack for the next three decades.

In the past week, some of the losing entities have cried foul, claiming the terms of the secretive process kept changing and that AEG won based on political favoritism.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan this week sent a subpoena to the state Lottery Division, which regulates racetrack casinos and had a vetting role in the Aqueduct process, seeking documents pertaining to a Queens charity. government and industry sources said their probe has widened in the past several days to include the Aqueduct casino deal.

An Assembly official said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continually raised concerns with Governor David A. Paterson about how the process — which changed several times after bids were received — was conducted.

In his letter to NY State Inspector General Joseph Fisch, Silver asked for a review of the process by the state Lottery Division and other agencies in evaluating the casino bids and to determine if state procurement rules were followed.

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