Local news

Corruption trial postponed for former racetrack owner

Scheduling problems prompted federal Judge Edward Shea to postpone Monday’s scheduled start of the public corruption trial of Orville Moe, the former operator of Spokane Raceway Park.

The U.S. District Court trial now is set to begin Thursday morning.

Moe is accused of offering cash bribes to Dale Perry, who at the time was the mayor of Airway Heights, where the raceway is located. The former mayor struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors last month and agreed to testify against Moe as a condition of getting a lighter penalty.

Moe is charged with two counts of bribery in a grand jury indictment that was returned on Sept. 19, 2006.

He is accused of loaning the Airway Heights mayor $18,000 in 2002 and another $109,000 in 2004, in exchange for Perry using his public office to oppose an admission tax on tickets sold at Spokane Raceway Park.

If convicted, Moe likely faces prison time. He has hired Spokane defense attorney Mark Vovos.

The 70-year-old millionaire spent the past four decades building and operating Spokane Raceway Park, a facility at Airway Heights that includes a drag strip, oval track and road course.

The facility also hosts Friday Night street racing for young people who race their personal vehicles on the drag strip.

Moe also is facing a substantial civil suit in Spokane County Superior Court brought by several hundred limited partners who say they were cheated out of an estimated $2.5 million in stock they purchased in the racetrack in the 1970s. The limited partners say they have seen no return on their investments, while Moe has enriched himself through subsidiary companies he controls and commingling of assets.

In that civil suit, state court Judge Robert Austin appointed a receiver who is now operating the facility, which is expected to be sold to pay off the limited partners.



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