Updated on 09/16/2011 9:48AM

Guard arrested in voucher scam


NEW YORK - An Aqueduct security officer was fired and arrested Monday after admitting he stole vouchers for a track promotion and attempted to cash them, New York Racing Association officials said.

The security officer, Henderson Kirton, 51, of Brooklyn, has been charged with third-degree theft. Kirton admitted his guilt on Monday, according to officials of NYRA, which operates Aqueduct.

NYRA officials began to investigate Kirton after he was caught attempting to redeem the promotion's jackpot winner, a $10,000 voucher, on Friday.

The promotion was called the Mystery Mutuel Voucher. More than 43,000 people on NYRA's mailing list received a voucher in the mail that was redeemable only at the track on Nov. 29. The vouchers, worth anywhere from $2 to $10,000, could be redeemed for cash or wagered.

According to NYRA officials, Kirton, who was in charge of distributing mail to backstretch workers, stole the vouchers from a box for NYRA's undeliverable mail. On Friday, he attempted to redeem around "30 or 40" vouchers at a self-service terminal, according to Terry Meyocks, the president of NYRA.

Kirton might not have been caught if one of his vouchers had not been the jackpot winner. When any promotional voucher worth $100 or more is entered into the machines, the terminal locks and alerts the mutuel department.

Employees of NYRA are prohibited from participating in the voucher promotion.

Mystery mutuel vouchers have become one of the most popular promotions in the sport in the past five years. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, for example, sponsored three voucher promotions this year, with one jackpot ticket in each worth at least $1 million.

In all the promotions, the vast majority of the tickets are worth the minimum. The vouchers have been credited with double-digit increases in handle and attendance at many tracks for the day the promotion is held.

Meyocks also said that the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and U.S Postal Inspector's Office have been notified. Regulators at the two agencies could determine if any additional charges should be pursued against Kirton, Meyocks said.