Andy Sanborn’s attorneys push for further delays in hearing

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire.

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire.

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 10-23-2023 6:05 PM

Lawyers representing Andy Sanborn continue their efforts to delay the proceedings to revoke the owner of the Concord Casino’s licenses to run games of chance in New Hampshire.

In their latest attempt, Sanborn’s attorneys argue that the Lottery Commission might introduce new charges or allegations based on undisclosed facts at the hearing to revoke his license.

“They have burned any presumption that they’re operating in good faith here with the shifting positions and the irreconcilable positions,” attorney Mark Knights said at a hearing on Monday.

Sanborn’s legal troubles stem from a joint investigation by the Attorney General and the Lottery Commission, which found him unsuitable to be associated with charitable gaming. Sanborn fraudulently obtained $844,000 of federal COVID relief funds and used the money to support his lavish lifestyle, including buying sports cars for himself and his wife, State Rep. Laurie Sanborn, according to the findings of the eight-month investigation. The relief funds were intended for struggling small businesses and casinos were exempt from receiving the money. Sanborn got around that by concealing the registered trade name “Concord Casino” on his application, using the name “Win Win Win LLC” instead and listing the business activity as “miscellaneous.”

The findings of the investigation were released on Aug 31. Sanborn made a request for a hearing that was initially set for Oct. 3 and has been delayed twice. In the meantime, the Concord Casino remains open for business, taking in thousands of dollars per night.

In cases like these, the Lottery Commission is not required to hold a hearing, state officials said.

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However, Sanborn was granted a temporary restraining order against the Lottery Commission and its chair, Debra Douglas, following a Merrimack Superior Court order on Oct. 12 as his lawyers argued that the time given to prepare for the hearing was insufficient.

Since the court ruling, Knights and fellow attorney Zachary Hafer wrote in a memorandum that the Lottery Commission’s “behavior has been erratic.”

The Lottery Commission’s attorney, Christina Wilson, acknowledged an ongoing investigation but argued it’s immaterial and said Sanborn was stalling.

“There could be things that pop up in the future. Right now we know what the scope of conduct is at issue and unless it’s separately noticed that they’re separate findings, that additional conduct they’re concerned about and telling the court about is not going to be part of this hearing,” said Wilson.

Another issue pertains to the presiding judge at the hearing, which would be Douglas. The memorandum filed says she has a conflict of interest, she has prejudged the facts during the pre-hearing conferences, and she did not dispute that the commission had violated due process. In fact, Sanborn, a former state Senator, objected to any commissioners from the New Hampshire Lottery presiding over this matter. In response, the commission has offered to appoint a hearing examiner or presiding officer in accordance with the rules.

In the past, the commission has chosen a presiding officer from a list of third-party contractors.

“I think at this point that it’s really just a delay that they’re using, despite being offered, essentially everything they have articulated that they wanted,” said Wilson. “I think that they want to drag this process out even further to leverage settlement and try to force the commission to settlement.”

In earlier proceedings that led to the postponement of the scheduled hearing on Oct. 13, Sanborn’s attorneys cited his deteriorating health as one of the reasons for requiring additional time for preparation.

Sanborn’s health concerns, “would make cramming hearing preparation into a few weeks both impracticable and inhumane,” Hafer wrote.

While the parties await the judge’s order, Sanborn’s attorneys have requested more time and suggested that having the hearing in the second week of December would be the most appropriate timeline for them to prepare.

The Lottery Commission has not submitted any written filings.

Sanborn’s operator and facility license expires on Dec. 31. If Sanborn is found unsuitable after the hearing, he would no longer be eligible to hold a gaming license, and a revocation process would be set in motion. Regardless of the hearing’s outcome, Sanborn retains the option to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

The Concord Casino, at 67 South Main St., remains open seven days a week until 1 a.m.