06/27/2002 11:00PM

NYRA fires tax dodgers


ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association has fired the 16 parimutuel tellers who have entered guilty pleas for tax evasion charges related to the association's payroll.

Three of the 16 pleaded guilty to the charge on Tuesday, and the other 13 pleaded guilty sometime last year. Despite the pleas, the tellers had remained on the job.

"NYRA's management and board take very seriously the issues raised by the guilty pleas," said Barry Schwartz, NYRA's chairman, in a statement.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, the tellers would claim that their cash drawers were short at the end of the day, pocket the short money, reimburse NYRA, and then claim the reimbursement amounts as expenses on their tax returns. The scheme reduced the tellers' annual taxable income.

The tellers face a maximum fine of $250,000, three years in prison, and payment of back taxes. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said on Thursday that the investigation is ongoing.