State audit finds Western Regional OTB lacked accountability, gave out lucrative perks

Corporation also faces lawsuit from former COO in federal court
Posted at 11:44 AM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 12:15:33-04

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Western Regional Off-Track Betting spent thousands on tickets to events, food and alcohol for board members, employees and other individuals without state oversight, according to an audit released by the New York State Comptroller Thursday.

A second audit found that CEO Henry Wojtaszek did not reimburse the organization for his personal use of a company vehicle in a timely manner.

The comptroller's office said they found "lax oversight of operations by the board of directors, a troubling tone at the top of the organization for establishing and following the rules, and poor documentation."

The audits were first announced by the state in 2019 after the WROTB Board of Directors said it would welcome an audit and would comply with any request by the state.

All employees that were assigned a take-home vehicle maintained mileage logs and reimbursed the corporation for personal use of its vehicle in a timely manner, except for Henry Wojtaszek.

Western Regional OTB Audit 2 by Sean Mickey on Scribd

Wojtaszek was promoted to president and CEO of WROTB in 2016, and previously served as a city attorney and chairman of the Niagara County GOP.

He did not reimburse the organization for his personal use of the corporation’s vehicle until an internal auditor found he was not adhering to policy.

The audit also found atleast 9 percent of promotional program tickets were given to board members, management, employees and others, failing to adhere to New York State Gaming Commission’s regulations and guidelines.

Western Regional OTB Audit 1 by Sean Mickey on Scribd

Those resources were meant to be used for promotions such as retaining and rewarding customers.

OTB officials did not keep accurate records of who received the tickets, worth at least $121,000, according to the state.

"This audit also shows that those who were making claims about vast mismanagement and misuse of resources at OTB were way off base," said Henry Wojtaszek in a statement provided to 7 Eyewitness News.

Recommendations from the state include ensuring all employees assigned take-home vehicles complete and file accurate mileage logs as required, and develop a system to maintain a complete, detailed and accurate record of all promotional tickets distributed.

"We invited the comptroller in to do an audit, cooperated fully and welcome their suggestions. Many we had already implemented before their review," Wojtaszek said.

Michael Nolan, former COO of WROTB, recently sued the organization and Wojtaszek, as well as Richard Bianchi in a federal court case. Nolan claims he was fired after cooperating with investigations into the organization.

Nolan stated he had concerns about awarding contracts to politically connected entities, improper use of funds, and the distribution of event tickets to friends and family members, according to the lawsuit.

The case is due to be answered in court on October 7.