Inside Job

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 19, 2009 in Kentucky Derby, News | No Comments >>

There are explosive allegations against Churchill Downs just two weeks before Derby.

The chairman of Churchill Downs is being accused of getting kickbacks from scalpers in return for getting them derby tickets.

A former Churchill Downs executive claims, in a lawsuit, that he was fired because he discovered Chairman Carl Pollard was funneling prime Derby tickets to brokers for a fee.

Former Churchill Downs Vice President Tom Schneider claims he’d uncovered Downs’ chairman Carl Pollard was taking bribes from ticket brokers in return for derby seats.

That’s why Schneider claims he was fired last year.  But it wasn’t until Schneider felt his family was being threatened that he filed his lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims Pollard and others broke the law by falsifying business records, misapplying entrusted property and receiving a bribe.

Schneider claims Churchill Downs hired him in 2003 to clean up the mess with its Derby tickets; to find out where all of them were going.

Pollard does play a role in deciding who gets Derby seats, but flatly denies doing anything improper with any of them, according to his attorney.

Schneider says he did.  But Schneider’s lawyer says the lawsuit wasn’t filed until Schneider, then his wife, felt threatened last Saturday.

A man allegedly came up to Mrs. Schneider in a parking lot and told her, “don’t push this.”

Schneider’s lawyer doesn’t think it was anyone with ties to Churchill Downs who allegedly threatened Schneider or his wife.

As for the allegations of kickbacks and ticket selling, a Churchill Downs spokesman says those claims were investigated internally and found to be totally untrue.

Pollard’s attorney says it never happened, saying in a statement that “Carl Pollard flatly denies that he is or has been involved in any improper conduct at Churchill Downs”, adding that Pollard is “offended by the allegations.”

A spokesman for Churchill adds “We previously investigated the allegations in this complaint and determined they were completely unfounded.”

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