Frank Farricker, the Connecticut Lottery Corp.'s board chairman and interim CEO, resigned from both unpaid but influential positions Monday after drawing heavy criticism during a legislative inquiry into lottery officials' handling of the fraud-plagued 5 Card Cash lottery game.
Saying that he hopes to help the lottery agency "by ceasing any further distractions," Farricker wrote to the quasi-public agency's general counsel, Matthew Stone, and said he was quitting immediately.
"I am proud to have presided over a period of exceptional growth in lottery revenue since 2011, and as Interim President, I am proud that through our efforts we helped to reinvigorate operations after the turmoil of the previous year. I was happy to volunteer because I care about each and every person inside the Lottery Corporation and what they do every day to help balance our state's budget," Farricker wrote.
A real estate businessman and former Greenwich Democratic Party chairman, Farricker was appointed lottery board chairman by his fellow Fairfield County Democrat, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Farricker has been serving as acting president/CEO since September, when Anne Noble stepped down from that $212,000-a-year post and entered a controversial separation agreement that is now paying her $25,000 a month through July.
He sought last year to be paid in the interim position but the Office of State Ethics rejected the idea. More recently, Farricker caused a stir at a May 2 hearing on the 5 Card Cash mess by the legislature's public safety committee when he acknowledged under questioning that he had been interested in applying for Noble's vacant six-figure position.
His interest in the paid CEO job became the subject of a Courant Government Watch column.
Asked further questions last Friday at a second hearing, Farricker revealed that he actually applied for the job in mid-April. But he said he was told a week later by a lottery board member that the state's so-called "revolving-door" ethics provision requires a one-year waiting period before a board member can jump into a paid job at his own agency.
A committee of the lottery's governing board is conducting a national search for a candidate to replace Noble. There's been no announcement about who will serve as interim CEO until Noble's replacement is hired.
Hit By Criticism
Farricker's departure came three days after he was criticized and subjected to pointed questions at Friday's second legislative hearing led by public safety committee co-chairman Joe Verrengia, a Democratic representative from West Hartford, about the 5 Card Cash online game that was shut down in November 2015.
The scandal surrounding 5 Card Cash has resulted in 15 arrests. Crooked lottery retailers manipulated the electronic system by overloading their game terminals with computer commands to slow down the ticket-printing function — which enabled them to see whether the next ticket to print would be a winner, and then print it for themselves.
Not only did committee members question Farricker about his effort to land the lucrative CEO job for himself, but they also criticized his hiring last fall of a lottery consultant whose son is an executive at Scientific Games, the lottery's vendor for online games.
Verrengia didn't like the fact that the $20,000 consultant was hired around the time Farricker negotiated a settlement with Scientific Games over 5 Card Cash. Noble originally sought $4 million, but Farricker and the board settled for $300,000. Legislators have been seeking documents to show how the $4 million claim got whittled down to $300,000, but the lottery corporation has refused to release the information based on a claim of "attorney-client privilege."
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano blasted Farricker in a letter Friday, saying "you have hidden behind the attorney client privilege" — which Fasano called "a gross abdication of your duty to be... accountable to the public." The committee formally asked Friday that the lottery drop the attorney-client privilege claim.
Malloy issued a statement Monday, saying: "I want to thank Frank for his service, both as Chair of the Connecticut Lottery Board of Directors and as Interim President of the Connecticut Lottery. Frank has volunteered a great deal of his time and expertise to the State and has overseen a period of growth at the Lottery, even during a period of significant organizational transition."
Malloy also said that in the interest of "a fresh start for the lottery," his administration will appoint new people to the board "in order to bring fresh eyes and energy to the Board of Directors."
Fasano released a statement saying he was "glad to hear that Mr. Farricker did the right thing by resigning from his positions within the Connecticut Lottery Corporation. I hope that this marks the beginning of a new era for the lottery to begin the process of earning back the public's trust."
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