10/14/2011 12:36PM

Florida breeders' and owners' group names new executive VP


The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association has hired former Santa Anita Park chief executive Lonny Powell as its new executive vice-president, the group announced at its annual meeting on Thursday.

Powell will take over on Jan. 1 from longtime executive vice-president Dick Hancock, whose 22-year tenure has been marked by recent controversy.

The breeders’ and owners’ group announced Hancock’s retirement earlier this year but had said he could serve out his contract on a part-time basis until his contract ended next August. At Thursday’s meeting, outgoing president Fred Brei said Hancock’s time with the group will now end with the transfer to Powell.

Hancock and the association’s board have come under fire early this year from a group of association members who questioned the organization’s direction and the transparency of its operations, including disclosure of its financial records. A meeting with those critics last spring led the association to announce a thorough review of its finances and policies.

A certified public accountant’s inspection, made public in September, found inadequate accounting systems and improper disposal of computer hard drives potentially containing members’ information, problems Brei has said the group largely has dealt with. Another finding – that Hancock had vastly underreported embezzlement by a longtime association employee – played a significant role in the board’s decision to seek Hancock’s Dec. 31 retirement, Brei told the Ocala, Fla., Star-Banner.

The association also announced Thursday that it will pay out a one-time 10-percent bonus on breeders’ awards to each breeder who received an award check last year. The group’s board also appointed Phil Matthews as its new president. Other officers are Brent Fernung, first vice president; Francis Vanlangendonck, second vice president; Bonnie Heath, treasurer; and Shiela DiMare, secretary.