04/10/2012 3:03PM

Monmouth Park: Complaint over track lease subject of Monday hearing


The chief legal counsel for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will preside over a hearing on Monday involving a complaint that the authority acted improperly when it authorized a lease of Monmouth Park to the state’s horsemen’s group.

The complaint was lodged by John J. Brunetti, who was one of three parties who submitted a bid for the lease of Monmouth Park earlier this year. In a letter sent to the authority, Brunetti’s attorney, Paul Josephson, said that the state changed the rules of the bidding “to accommodate” the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which was tabbed by the authority to operate Monmouth shortly after receiving the bid proposals.

Specifically, the letter from Brunetti’s attorney said the state violated its own request for proposals by granting the horsemen $4 million this year to operate the track as part of its lease agreement. The request for proposals stated that authority did not plan to “subsidize” the track’s operation in the future, the letter stated.

The terms of the lease with the horsemen “materially vary from the required terms of the RFP and violate bidding laws,” the letter states. It demands that the authority reopen bidding for the track, which is scheduled to open on May 3.

Authority spokesman John Samerjan said authority officials would not comment on the allegations in the letter.

“We’re working toward a May opening,” Samerjan said.

Mark E. Stefanacci, the chief operating officer and legal counsel for the sports authority, will preside over the Monday hearing.