February 14, 2022 3 min read


Gaming Inspectors Slam New York Gaming Commission Over Misconduct

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned over alleged sexual harassment and other allegations last year. His management style seems to be shared by the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC), which is now facing several serious allegations of wrongdoing. Depending on what action Governor Kathy Hochul wants to take, the NYGC could face some major changes.

NYGC Rife With Issues

15 gaming inspector reports were released to the Times-Union. They identified misconduct and irregularities among NYGC employees, as well as at two funds that offer financial incentives for horses bred in New York. Apparently, Cuomo’s administration knew of the problems, as all of the reports were “confidential” and sealed until Hochul stepped in.

According to one report, Nicholas Ferriero from Yonkers Raceway officiated harness racing races that his family members took part in. He sent thousands to horse racing participants via text messages while he was officiating.

Multiple gaming commission employees were reported as having participated in prohibited gambling while at work. State law prohibits commission employees from placing wagers on any type of gaming activity that is conducted in the state. The Code of Conduct reiterates this policy. Some of those accused of wrongdoing are still with the NYGC.

Jeffrey Tallarino, who was once a Vernon Downs judge, is alleged to have engaged in inappropriate behavior, including giving a “phallic-shaped cake” to another employee and taking “retaliatory” steps against a female NYGC staffer who made the allegations against him. Efforts to address the allegations were also reported to have been deliberately stalled by the commission.

Steve Lewandowski, a former state steward for New York Racing Association (NYRA), was reported as having improperly withheld purse funds from owners on more occasions than one occasion.

Brad Maione of the NYGC spoke on behalf of the commission and said that the NYSGC knew nothing about the matter.

New York Horse Funds Cozy with the NYGC

The reports identified two-state racing funds, the Agriculture and New York State Breeding Development Fund (NYBDF) and New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund (NYTBDF). They both had members who were either involved in the programs or received funds from them.

The inspector general found that Mike Mullaney, the executive director of the NYBDF, allowed horses not eligible to participate in its programs from 2012 to 2014. Lee also discovered that Mullaney mishandled the bidding process to purchase t-shirts or tote bags. Mullaney resigned from the fund in 2014 on his own initiative.

Former Acting Gaming Inspector General Lisa Lee found Jean Brown, a member of the Harness Horse Breeders (HHB) board and VP and GM of Blue Chip Farms was the one who suggested that ineligible horses be allowed to compete. Betty Holt, executive director of the HHB, did not stop Mullaney from accepting the proposal. Holt stated to the Times Union that the HHB didn’t make decisions about the eligibility of horses for the program and that she wasn’t aware of any horses who were ineligible.

An investigation is possible; however, it would be challenging. A number of the individuals mentioned in the reports are no longer with the NYGC or the other groups. There is also some ambiguity in what groups’ charters allow or disallow.

However, because of the public nature of gambling in New York right now, it’s likely that some repercussions are coming. Lee is now the deputy inspector general for gaming for the New York Inspector General and may continue to put together a case.


Erik brings his unique writing talents and storytelling flare to cover a wide range of gambling topics. He has written for a number of industry-related publications over the years, providing insight into the constantly evolving world of gaming. A huge sports fan, he especially enjoys football and anything related to sports gambling. Erik is particularly interested in seeing how sports gambling and online gaming are transforming the larger gaming ecosystem.

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