Raton Racino Contractor Files Lien

By Charles D. Brunt: Albuquerque Journal

The lead contractor for La Mesa Racetrack and Casino has filed an $845,000 lien against Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer and Horse Racing at Raton LLC, the corporation behind the troubled $50 million racino.

A claim of lien filed by James H. Franken, president of Las Vegas, N.M.-based Franken Construction Co. Inc., claims the sum of $844,678 plus interest from Moldenhauer and Horse Racing at Raton.

The lien, filed April 12 with the Colfax County Clerk’s Office, lists two unpaid invoices from Franken Construction — one for work submitted in March and one in April.

A lien, or a creditor’s claim against property, is one way a contractor can try to ensure payment for work, materials and services. Neither Moldenhauer nor Franken returned repeated phone calls seeking comment.

The lien is the latest in a series of problems facing the planned racino.

Moldenhauer was chosen from among four groups — including one in Tucumcari — vying for the state’s sixth, and likely final, racino. Soon after, regulators expressed concern regarding Moldenhauer’s then-partner Marc Correra of Santa Fe.

Correra, whose family has close political and personal ties to Gov. Bill Richardson, came under scrutiny after sharing in more than $20 million in fees for helping investment firms land lucrative contracts with state agencies.

The New Mexico Gaming Control Board did not grant Moldenhauer a gaming license until Correra agreed to divest himself of all interest in the Raton racino.

Moldenhauer has missed a number of self-imposed deadlines for opening even a temporary casino. New racinos typically open their gambling facilities months before hosting live races.

The state Construction Industries Division delayed work on the temporary casino until Moldenhauer’s contractors could provide required plans and drawings, further slowing construction.