HOGANSBURG State Inspector General Ellen N. Biben released a three-page investigative report Wednesday that found a supervising casino inspector improperly accepted gifts from patrons and employees of the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, which he was responsible for regulating.
Edward Hawks, 44, West Chazy, a supervising gaming inspector for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, admitted that during the past few years, he accepted various gifts from patrons, vendors and employees of the casino where he supervises nine state casino inspectors. Gifts included cigars from patrons, a clock and bar stools from slot machine vendors and a windbreaker from the casino staff.
Mr. Hawks is responsible for supervising the oversight and regulatory activities at the casino.
As a supervisor, Mr. Hawks had a duty to avoid any conflicts of interest, and as a state casino regulator even the appearance of a conflict is inexcusable, Ms. Biben said in a news release.
During her investigation, Mr. Hawks denied that the acceptance of the gifts was in exchange for any official action on his part. He also said he believed he was banned only from accepting gifts worth at least $75, even though current law prohibits receiving gifts worth more than even nominal value. Records indicate Mr. Hawks completed ethics training as recently as last year.
He began work at the Racing and Wagering Board in 1999 and has been in his current position since 2009. He is assigned full time to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.
The report was referred to the Racing and Wagering Board and the state Commission on Public Integrity for appropriate action. The inspector general also recommends that the board take steps to ensure that the ethics training provided to its employees is current and effective, particularly as it pertains to the receipt of gifts.
In the report, the Racing and Wagering Board said it will issue Mr. Hawks a letter of reprimand and request that he complete online ethics training.
The Mohawk Tribal Council said this was not a public issue.
Tribal Council hasnt yet had time to review or discuss the reports and its findings, spokeswoman Aimee Benedict said in an email. The council considers this an internal matter to be handled by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
Patrick J. Bassney, general manager of the casino, said Mr. Hawks is an employee of New York, not the casino. Mr. Bassney declined to comment further.
Mr. Hawks did not return phone calls seeking comment.