03/02/2004 12:00AM

Law firm to monitor NYRA

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A federal judge on Tuesday appointed a Manhattan law firm that specializes in fraud investigations to monitor the operations of the New York Racing Association for the next 16 months.

The judge, Arthur D. Spatt of Federal District Court in New York, appointed Getnick and Getnick as NYRA's inspector general, a post created last year after NYRA reached a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid prosecution on several fraud counts. Getnick and Getnick was one of four law firms appointed by New York City to monitor the cleanup effort at the former site of the World Trade Center.

The law firm will report to the New York State Comptroller, Alan Hevesi, and the New York Attorney's office, which is headed by Eliot Spitzer.

The law firm will be charged with monitoring whether NYRA complies with several promises it made in order to avoid prosecution, including a restructuring of the association's departments.

According to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, two other firms will participate in the monitoring effort. Hawthorne Investigations and Security will handle investigative work, while P. Scutero and Associates will monitor NYRA's finances.