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What you need to know for 07/22/2017

NYRA details payout given to executives it fired

NYRA details payout given to executives it fired

Getting canned by the New York Racing Association isn’t all bad, at least for some former executives

Getting canned by the New York Racing Association isn’t all bad, at least for some former executives.

Charles Hayward, NYRA’s former president, walked away with $20,000 after he was fired in May 2012 and general counsel Patrick Kehoe was paid $140,000 after his abrupt termination, according to a settlement agreement released by the authority last week following a Freedom of Information Law request filed by The Gazette in early March.

Hayward and Kehoe, who also served as NYRA’s senior vice president, were seeking $460,000 and $413,000 respectively in severance payouts. They were both fired amid a state investigation into allegations they did nothing to stop an error that cost bettors millions of dollars.

At the time, the state Racing and Wagering Board reported that $8.5 million owed to bettors was withheld by various vendors because NYRA was using an incorrect takeout percentage on its races for roughly 15 months. When the mistake was revealed in December 2011, Hayward maintained it was an inadvertent error NYRA knew nothing about.

Kehoe signed his settlement in February and Hayward signed his in October. NYRA’s board approved the settlements during their meeting in March.

Parts of Hayward’s deal were not released by NYRA. Five paragraphs under the subheading “continuing obligations” were blacked out by NYRA.

“Certain portions of Mr. Hayward’s settlement agreement have been redacted because release of this information would constitute an unwarranted invasion of Mr. Hayward’s personal privacy under Public Officers Law,” Pasquale Viscusi, the authority’s counsel, wrote in an email Friday.

Hayward’s and Kehoe’s deals both seem minor compared with the settlement that Christopher Kay, NYRA’s first-year president and chief executive officer, is eligible to receive if he’s terminated without cause before the October 2015 expiration of his contract. Kay automatically gets his $300,000 base pay in addition to the full $250,000 promised to him for achieving performance goals, according to a copy of the 10-page contract released by NYRA following a FOIL request filed in early April.

If Kay is terminated without cause before his one-year anniversary, he’ll receive salary equal to the amount equal nine months of pay. He’ll receive his full year’s salary and performance bonuses if NYRA parts ways with him after June.

Kay’s contract also includes a number of perks that weren’t publicly mentioned when he was hired to lead NYRA, including a $19,800 annual stipend for an “automobile allowance” and up to $400 per month for gasoline.

The contract also allows Kay to explore a concept he’s developing for “an online lottery game that potentially will at some time in the future be licensed to a third party in those markets where such games have been legalized.” The executive can continue to develop the game while employed by NYRA provided that it doesn’t conflict with the authority’s business or his performance.

Kay will receive up to four weeks' paid vacation. He is allowed to carry over up to 10 days into the following year and can accrue up to 30 days at any time during his employment.

The contract also allows NYRA to pay Kay more than the $250,000 guaranteed to him for achieving certain performance goals. NYRA did not, however, release any details of the performance goals, despite The Gazette’s FOIL request specifically asking for them.

The contract states a preliminary draft of the goals had been provided to Kay before he signed the contract. These goals are set to be reviewed by NYRA’s board in June, upon his one-year anniversary with the authority.

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