Cover Stories Summer/Fall 2005

Closed Lakes Region Track Linked to Federal Drug Bust

Belmont, New Hampshire: Federal authorities smashed a drug-trafficking ring that distributed hundreds of oxycodone pills per week in New England. Oxycodone is a morphine-like prescription drug. Twenty-four people in four states, including Randall Noe, 37, face charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Noe was arrested in Las Vegas June 18 and federal prosecutors have begun forfeiture proceedings against his home in Belmont. If convicted on the charges, each of those charged could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $2 million in fines.

"Randy Noe conducted much of his illicit drug business from a lounge at the Lakes Region Greyhound Track . . . using telephones located in the lounge and various cellular phones," the affidavit read. According to the affidavit, Noe told an undercover agent in 2003 that when he received a call on his cell phone, he would check the caller ID before returning the call using one of the track's "VIP" phones.

The affidavit also charges that Noe organized trips for couriers to Florida and, along with co-conspirators, laundered ill-gotten funds through Las Vegas casinos and at the now-closed Lakes Region track. According to a supporting affidavit from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency official, authorities charge that Noe obtained hundreds of pills each week and distributed them to lower-level traffickers. One 80-milligram pill has a street value of $50 or more.

The New England Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force oversaw the multi-agency investigation, which was conducted by personnel from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In other news, developer David Johnston, whose partnership had the winning bid to buy the Lakes Region track in the court supervised sale held in April, announced in mid-August that he planned to transfer his rights to Marlin Torguson, a major player in the casino industry who pioneered gambling on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Torguson, founder and chief executive officer of Tor-guson Gaming, also has developed abroad.

Johnston had been poised to finalize the purchase Aug. 18, but his partners withdrew from the deal in June after news surfaced that a federal investigation had uncovered a drug trafficking ring conducting business out of the track.

The track was put up for sale in April following the indictment of two of its former managers on federal charges of illegal gambling and money laundering. [See cover story in the Spring 2005 edition of GNN at - Ed.]

Torguson finalized the purchase of the track Sept. 9 and plans to reopen it in January for simulcast wagering on off-site horse races. Live greyhound racing is scheduled to resume in mid-May of 2006. Torguson now must file an application for a gaming license with the pari-mutuel commission. After reviewing the application, the commission will forward it the to the state Attorney General's Office for approval, a process that could take up to 90 days.

The Union Leader:Benjamin Knipple;
Concord Monitor:Daniel Barrick;
Laconia Citizen: John Koziol