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Judge delays casino license revocation hearing, as Sanborn claims lack of due process

The Concord Casino on Main Street remains open despite a pending investigation into Sanborn's use of COVID-relief money.
Dan Barrick
The Concord Casino on Main Street remains open despite a pending investigation into Sanborn's use of COVID-relief money.

Former state Sen. Andy Sanborn is accusing the New Hampshire Lottery Commission of violating his due process rights and failing to give him enough time to prepare for an administrative hearing, as the state seeks to revoke his license to operate a casino.

Sanborn, who ran for the Republican nomination for the 1st Congressional District in 2018, is accused of fraudulently accepting more than $833,000 in COVID relief loans from the federal government and then using that money on lavish purchases for him and his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn, including a suite of sports cars. The Lottery Commission is seeking to strip Sanborn, who owns the Concord Casino, of his license to run a charitable gaming facility, claiming he is “unsuitable” to run the operation.

Sanborn was initially scheduled for an administrative hearing on Oct. 3, but was granted a 10-day extension. On Thursday, he filed more than 450 pages of exhibits with a superior court judge as part of a request for an emergency injunction blocking the state from carrying out the hearing.

In that court paperwork, Sanborn alleges the state has “misapprehended critical facts” about his finances, and that he was given a matter of weeks to prepare for a hearing that could result in “irreparable and catastrophic harm to [Sanborn’s] livelihood and reputation.”

A superior court judge granted Sanborn’s emergency request, and has scheduled an additional hearing for Oct. 20.

In late August, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office released an investigation alleging that Sanborn received federal emergency business loans even though casinos were not eligible for those benefits. He then, according to prosecutors, purchased numerous sports cars and paid himself $183,500 that he claimed were rent payments, by funneling the money into a business he owned.

Regulators also alleged Sanborn improperly used $28,800 in COVID money to pay for engineering and consulting services related to a new casino he plans to build on the outskirts of Concord.

In court paperwork, Sanborn’s attorneys say a third-party filed his request for federal loans, and that they were not given enough time to perform a forensic audit on his business in advance of the scheduled hearing.

His attorneys allege the state is violating its own guidelines as it seeks to strip him of his casino license, and that the chairwoman of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, Debra Douglas, has shown bias against Sanborn as he sought extensions in the matter.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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