Washington attorney Frank J. DeFrancis announced yesterday that he has purchased Laurel Raceway from the National Bank of Washington for $5 million.
The purchase includes the real estate and track buildings. All that remains for completion of the deal is the granting of dates by the Harness Racing Board. Attorneys for DeFrancis are asking for the summer dates beginning June 23.
DeFrancis said he is the 100 percent owner and will incorporate the track as the Free State Corp.
At a press conference at Pimlico, DeFrancis was asked if the 88 acres that include the harness track could be used as the site of a sports complex in the future.
"I've said all along that the site of Laurel Raceway is ideal," he said. "It exists between two large metropolitan areas and has ready access to Columbia and Northern Virginia.
"I've moved my entire staff to Laurel and intend to put aside all other business until this operation is firmed up. Right now I'm in the business of operating a harness track."
DeFrancis has other business interests in an airline, shopping center, motels and real estate.
The National Bank of Washington approached DeFrancis on March 11 regarding the track's sale. The parties reached a tentative agreement on March 23.
In a related development, Joseph E. Shamy, formerly one of the principal owners of the Laurel Raceway, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to four years imprisonment and a $31,000 fine.
Shamy was convicted in December of mail fraud, wire fraud and racketeering for a sophisticated scheme in which he allegedly defrauded the raceway's minority shareholders.