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Alleged Mismanagement Incites a Jockeys' Revolt

Riders take over Guild's reins, accusing officials of inappropriately using $2.1 million in funds and allowing accident insurance to lapse.

December 13, 2005|Greg Johnson | Times Staff Writer

With the hearing still fresh in their memory, 27 members of the Jockeys' Guild Senate met by teleconference on Nov. 15. During the lengthy call, the panel changed the bylaws so they could elect a new board of directors -- which promptly fired Gertmenian.

Haire, the newly elected leader, and a number of jockeys then moved into the guild's Monrovia office. Within hours, Haire said, Gertmenian and Fiss appeared and demanded that they leave.

Haire said that as he bent over to pick up some papers, Gertmenian pushed him to the floor. Atkinson said Fiss used his size and weight advantage to shove jockeys out of the office: "Albert was charging us like a football player."

Barry Broad, a Sacramento attorney who represents the guild, said the guild told the FBI and Monrovia police that Gertmenian "took valuable assets," including Bill Shoemaker's autographed boot. A Monrovia police spokesman confirmed that the department's investigation into the Nov. 15 scuffle is continuing.

Gertmenian and Fiss cashed checks totaling about $113,000, according to the guild. But a Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order Nov. 23 that ordered Bank of America to stop payment on checks totaling $104,000 made out to Matrix, the consulting firm.

Guild members and the new board say they are going to restore the organization's finances and reputation.

"We're going to try and rebuild it," said Atkinson, a guild member who is not a board or senate member. "We're going to put it back together. It would be a very sad day for the guys who created this organization ... for us to let it die."

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Times staff writer Bill Christine contributed to this report.

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