AUGUSTA (AP) – An accountant for Bangor racino applicant Shawn Scott testified Thursday before Maine’s Harness Racing Commission as the pace of the state’s probe of Scott’s background picked up.

Los Angeles accountant Carl Hasting acknowledged some “financial disorganization” within Scott’s network of companies, but said they pay their bills on time and operate in a way to improve their performance.

Answering questions from Scott’s lawyers, Hasting said the accounting firm with which he was associated did not accept clients of questionable moral character. Scott exceeded those standards, he told the commission.

The five-member panel is considering a racing license application for Scott, which would allow him to operate slot machines at Bangor Raceway unless state regulations are changed.

The commission must consider Scott’s moral character and financial responsibility.

Hasting, who continues to act as a consultant for Scott on tax matters, said Scott was not intimately familiar with all of the transactions among his various companies, but said that was not unusual for “high net individuals” who prefer to focus on the “big picture.”

Scott, whose Las Vegas-based Capital Seven LLC is part-owner of the Bangor track, is expected to testify Friday. Scott has attended all three days of hearings at the Augusta Civic Center.

A report submitted to the commission by its executive director before the hearings connects 38 of Scott’s more than 100 companies directly or indirectly to the Bangor project.

Scott bankrolled a November referendum campaign that helped persuade Maine voters to authorize slot machines at commercial harness racing tracks, provided local voters also give their consent.

Bangor voters have approved slots at that city’s track, but voters in Scarborough, where Maine’s other commercial track is located, said no. Scarborough Downs is now wooing Saco and Westbrook voters with hopes of getting the proposal through.

In Augusta Thursday, former Bangor City Councilor Nichi Farnham said she was among the city officials who heard Scott’s pitch to invest $30 million in the city’s raceway and grandstand at Bass Park.

Scott’s Capital Seven ran races under a conditional license is 2003.

Farnham, asked whether there’s been any suggestion Scott would not honor his agreement to make the improvements, said, “Nothing so far.”

Fred Nicholas, who general manager of the Bangor track, said it has no outstanding bills for 2003 and that its association with Scott’s company lifted it from financial “dire straits.”

In cross-examination by Scarborough Downs lawyer Ed MacColl, Nichols was asked whether he recalled calling Scott a “snake.” Nichols said he did not.

MacColl then asked if Nichols recalled telling one of the track’s shareholders, “We may be going with a snake, but at least we’re going to the dance.” Nichols again said he did not recall making such a statement.

The commission was also expected to hear from Jack Hebert, who owns a car dealership near Delta Downs in Vinton, La.

Scott bought the Louisiana track for about $10 million four years ago and after mounting a successful campaign to allow slot machines, sold it for $100 million two years ago.

Hebert, a former police officer, said Scott revitalized horse racing at Delta Downs, and that has translated into 1,500 full-time jobs.

“We owe Shawn Scott,” said Hebert. “He’s a man of his word. He’s a visionary.”

AP-ES-12-18-03 1837EST



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