Dog track execs get trial venue change

Jun 7, 2005 5:09 AM

Two executives of Lincoln Greyhound Park, whose recent trial on alleged bribery charges ended in a mistrial, have been granted a change of venue for the retrial.

Trial judge Mary Lisi has ruled that because of pretrial publicity it would be "nearly impossible" to ensure a fair trial in Rhode Island. She said the trial would be held in Worcester, Mass.

The first trial ended with a hung jury on most of the counts, including the central bribery-conspiracy charge that Daniel Bucci, track president, and Nigel Potter, former CEO of Wembley Plc., the British company that has operated the racino, had conspired to bribe the then Speaker of the Rhode Island House with payments to his law firm. The payments were never made.

In agreeing to a change in venue, Judge Lisi noted that she had used extraordinary measures to ensure an impartial jury for the first trial and that with all the publicity generated by the trial it would be extremely difficult to hold a fair trial in Providence, R.I.

In addition to the trial publicity, Lincoln Greyhound Park is often in the news because of a proposal by BLB Investors to acquire the property. However, the investors have insisted on certain guarantees before pouring some $560 million into the purchase of the park and planned improvements. The Senate has already approved a bill that satisfies the buyers but the House is still holding hearings on legislation that is still far different from the Senate.

BLB Investors is a partnership involving Kerzner International (KZL), Starwood Hotel and Resorts Inc. (HOT) and privately held Waterford Investments.