AP NEWS

Racing season a go, but future of Waterford track uncertain

April 12, 2019

The New London-Waterford Speedbowl, which wealthy businessman Bruce J. Bemer bought at auction in 2014, is on track for a delayed opening this season and its future ownership is in question amid a sex trafficking scandal unprecedented in Connecticut.

Convicted of sex trafficking crimes Wednesday, Bemer, 65, of Glastonbury faces a lengthy prison sentence and the potential for his fortune — estimated in the tens of millions — to be distributed among more than a dozen victims and their attorneys in civil litigation.

The Speedbowl’s management announced Friday that the track tentatively is scheduled to open the first week of June, about the same time its owner faces life-changing court proceedings. Jury selection for some of Bemer’s civil lawsuits is scheduled for June 4 in Superior Court in Bridgeport. His sentencing date is June 6 in his criminal case.

As the racetrack’s operators hurry to finish a renovation project that includes replacing the grandstands for the first time in its 69 year history, civil attorneys are accelerating their efforts to collect damages for Bemer’s victims.

“We’re pressing forward, and my plan is to take every penny from that man,” said attorney Joel Faxon, who is representing eight victims or their estates and said he has another client “waiting in the wings” to bring a civil action.

Attorney Ryan Barry, whose Manchester firm, Barry, Barall & Spinella, represents Bemer, said the firm wouldn’t comment on pending cases.

Bemer is free on 25 million in assets as a prejudgment remedy, should he be found liable in the civil cases. The ruling indicated the plaintiffs proved probable cause exists to find him liable of doing harm to vulnerable young men.

“The only way to stop him from human trafficking is to take all his money, every single penny, so he can’t do it to any other child, he can’t do it to any other mentally ill person or drug-addicted person or their families,” Faxon said. “He’s ruined entire families and it needs to stop.”

k.florin@theday.com