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Another top MTR official resigns

September 30, 2010
By PAUL GIANNAMORE, Business editor

CHESTER - The two top officials of MTR Gaming have resigned this week, with Chief Financial Officer David Hughes' resignation following on the heels of the departure of chief executive Robert Griffin.

Griffin's employment agreement provides he will receive almost $1.7 million for two years after his departure, not counting various stock options.

MTR announced Hughes' departure Wednesday, a day after Griffin resigned to take the chief executive post at Trump Entertainment Resorts.

The company said Hughes resigned "for good reason based on the resignation of Robert F. Griffin as chef executive officer."

John W. Bittner Jr., executive vice president of finance and accounting, will assume the duties of CFO, with Hughes agreeing to assist during the next 90 days.

MTR Gaming will continue to pay departing executive Robert Griffin's base salary and a bonus amount for two years, or almost $1.7 million, under terms of his amended employment agreement approved in March, plus about $900,000 owed to Hughes.

Griffin also has 100,000 shares of common stock, 200,000 shares of restricted stock units and the option on another 150,000 shares he could exercise.

The company's agreement with Hughes, 47, provided that if Griffin departs, Hughes had the right to resign upon 90 days' written notice and will receive all unpaid base salary for the term of his agreement plus any unpaid bonus he would be entitled to receive within 10 days.

Hughes had a two-year agreement made Sept. 25, 2009, for a $410,000 annual salary with a 5 percent escalator, plus a bonus of 40 percent of his salary. In addition, he would receive 12 monthly installment severance payments equal to his base salary plus the applicable bonus, meaning his total would be about $900,000.

Griffin, 51, who was chief executive officer and president of MTR, parent of Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort since November 2008, resigned Wednesday to take the chief executive post at Trump Entertainment Resorts.

Griffin was among seven persons re-elected to the board of directors during the annual meeting in August for a one-year term. His salary was increased to an annual rate of $577,500 in March. He had been earning an annual salary of $550,000.

Also, Griffin is entitled to a monthly amount equal to the highest bonus amount earned in either of the past two calendar years. According to MTR filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his bonus in 2009 was $288,750.

Based on a per-month payment for two years, the annual salary and bonus would total more than $1.69 million.

That comes in addition to a $150,000 retention award and 200,000 restricted shares that become vested upon his departure.

Griffin also was listed as owning 100,000 shares of common stock as of June 18 and had options for another 150,000 shares that could be exercised with his resignation.

The stock value at the close of the market on Tuesday was $1.85. The 100,000 shares would be worth $185,000.

He also was listed as having equity awards of a total of 200,000 securities with an option exercise price of $3.71 per share as of Sept. 19, 2018. The total value of those shares would be $742,000.

The company's stock price when his hiring was announced to the public in mid-October 2008 was $2.87.

In its SEC filings, MTR said Griffin received the 2009 bonus for meeting an agreed-upon target for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, as well as displaying leadership skills and accountability and for having "galvanized the management team around his vision for the company's future."

Griffin did not receive a long-term incentive grant in 2009 and received an equity grant in 2008 upon his hiring in September.

His total compensation including salary and bonuses and reimbursements attributable to fiscal 2009 was $1.09 million. Griffin came to MTR with experience in the hospitality and gaming business dating to 1980, including his previous job as senior vice president of operations of Isle of Capri Casinos and as general manager of several of the firm's properties.

Hughes also owned 70,000 shares of common stock as of June 15. He also holds 50,000 restricted stock units and $37,500 under the company's stock incentive plan.

Stepping into the CEO post while the company looks for a new permanent chief executive is Stephen M. Billick, a member of the board of directors since October 2008 who was elected chairman in March. Billick was a principal with Inglewood Associates, a management consulting firm, and was the principal of Edgerton Associates, providing accounting and finance consulting for publicly traded and privately held companies.

Billick, 54, also was executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer for Agilisys Inc., a computer hardware, software and service distributor, from 2000 to 2005; and had been a partner at the major accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche.

(Giannamore can be contacted at

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