Three Trainers, Clocker Charged With Fraud at Penn National

by | 11.22.2013 | 11:20am
Penn National Racecourse

Trainers David Wells, Sam Webb and Patricia Rogers, along with clocker Danny Robertson, were arrested Friday morning on federal charges of fraud in connection with races run at Penn National racetrack in Grantville, Pa. The arrests were the result of a long-running federal jury and an investigation by the FBI that is ongoing. After the indictments were unsealed and the arrests made, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission suspended the four individuals indefinitely, pending the outcome of the criminal cases against them.

Sam Webb indictment

David Wells indictment

Patricia Rogers indictment

Danny Robertson indictment

 

Penn National's director of operations, Dan Silver, issued the following comment on behalf of Penn National Gaming:
“Management at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course has confirmed that four individuals were arrested on track property Friday morning.

“Three of the individuals were licensed trainers that run horses at the racetrack and the fourth was an employee of the track. The employee has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

“The trainers in question are not employees at Penn National. Management is awaiting taking any possible action pending determination by the PA State Horse Racing Commission on the status of the trainers' licenses.

“Hollywood Casino takes this matter very seriously and will cooperate fully with law enforcement for the swift settlement of these issues.


Following is a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice for the Middle District of Pennsylvania:

The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced the unsealing of indictments charging three thoroughbred horse trainers and an employee of Penn National Racetrack in Grantville with fraud in connection with horse races at that track. The indictments were returned by a federal grand jury in Harrisburg on Wednesday and were unsealed following arrests of four individuals earlier today.

According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, David Wells, 39, of Grantville, Sam Webb, 63, of Jonestown, Patricia Anne Rogers, 43, of Hummelstown, and Danny Robertson, 63, of Hershey, were charged individually in four separate indictments.

Wells, Webb and Rogers, all horse trainers, were charged with allegedly devising a scheme to defraud those betting on thoroughbred races at Penn National Racetrack by attempting to administer, and administering in violation of state racing rules and regulations, substances prohibited from being introduced into a horse within 24 hours of when the horse is scheduled to race.

The indictment also alleges that it is also a violation of state law to rig or attempt to rig a publicly exhibited contest such as a thoroughbred horse race. Races at Penn National Racetrack are simulcast to approximately 116 sites across the United States and in other countries by wire and television to allow bettors to wager on the Penn National races without being in attendance at that track.

According to the indictment, Robertson was employed by the track as the clocker to provide racing officials and others with the official workout times for horses at Penn National, information relied upon by the betting public. The trainers, like the owners, stand to profit financially from the purse offered for that race if the horse that is entered finishes in first, second or third place.

The indictment charging Webb alleges that Webb was detected by track security personnel on May 2, 2013, in a stall at the racetrack in possession of hypodermic syringes, needles and bottles of medications preparing to inject the horse “Papaleo” that Webb trained and which was scheduled to run in the sixth race that day. The horse was scratched from the race by racing officials.

The indictment charging Rogers alleges that Rogers was caught by track security personnel on August 21, 2013, at a stall at the racetrack in possession of hypodermic syringes and needles and bottles of medications and was observed injecting or attempting to inject a substance into a horse named “Strong Resolve” that she trained and that was scheduled to run in the second race that day.

The horse was scratched from the race by racing officials. Rogers was also charged with conspiring with a person known to the grand jury to attempt to commit wire fraud.

The indictment charging Wells alleges that Wells, both a trainer and horse owner, for several years up to and including February 2012, would routinely inject prohibited substances into horses he trained and other horses he both trained and owned, by use of hypodermic syringes and needles and otherwise. It is also alleged that Wells was routinely in possession of those prohibited items at the racetrack in violation of state rules, regulations and laws.

The indictment charging Robertson alleges that Robertson was an employee of the racetrack, working in the capacity of clocker whose duties included being present when horses would have their official workout. Robertson was to verify that the horse being timed was the actual horse the trainer represented it to be, to accurately record the distance each horse ran, and the time it ran that distance in and then to provide that information to racing officials for inclusion in the official public daily racing program.

Robertson also allegedly sent the workout time information interstate by wire via computer to Equibase, a Kentucky based company that provides information on a racehorse's past performance and workout times to media outlets and publications as well as on its own website. The workout time information is allegedly relied upon by the betting public in deciding which horses to wager on in any given race.

The Robertson indictment alleges that Robertson, in exchange for cash given to him by trainers known and unknown to the grand jury, would provide false workout times to racing officials and to Equibase. The times Robertson turned in allegedly, at times, included completely fabricated time for horses that did not workout at all at the track. The indictment alleges Robertson profited personally from the scheme, the betting public was defrauded and Robertson's employer, Hollywood Casino and Racetrack, was denied of its right to Robertson's honest services.

The investigation which is continuing is being conducted by the Harrisburg office of the FBI, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Horse Racing Commission, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Each defendant faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000.00 fine if convicted of wire fraud or attempted wire fraud. Each defendant faces an additional 5 years imprisonment and a $250,000.00 fine if convicted of using and attempting to use the intestate wire mechanism provided by the simulcasting of races to defraud or for attempting to defraud the public through the rigging of a publicly exhibited contest in violation of state law. Rogers faces an additional potential 20 year term of imprisonment and a $250,000.00 fine if convicted of the charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud.

Prosecution has been assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney William A. Behe.

The case has been assigned to Senior U.S. District Court Judge William W. Caldwell.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

The Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association issued the following statement:
The PA HBPA is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of approximately 4,800 thoroughbred horse owners and trainers who race horses at Penn National Race Course in and Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa.

The PA HBPA believes strongly that it is of the utmost importance to the integrity of horseracing, the betting public, and racing fans for the racing industry to remain strictly vigilant in regards to the improper use of medications or other performance enhancing drugs.

We believe we run a great program here at Penn National that delivers high quality, competitive races to the betting public here in Pennsylvania and across the country.   The PA HBPA works closely with the Pennsylvania Racing Commission on a daily basis to ensure that the rules and regulations governing horse racing are effectively enforced so that each of our members can enjoy a level playing field

The PA HBPA takes seriously our responsibility to serve as good stewards of the money we receive from the Race Horse Development Fund and we are proud of the substantial economic impact and job growth our industry has generated in Pennsylvania. As part of our stewardship efforts, the PA HBPA worked proactively with the management of Penn National Race Course to establish a new program to ensure that Lasix was properly administered and to prohibit the use of other medications on race day.

Our Lasix program was put in place two years ago and requires that Lasix can only be administered by specific designated veterinarians.  This was done to help ensure Lasix was not used improperly on race days and maintain the integrity of the sport.  Prior to the new program, Lasix was administered by a range of individuals with inadequate oversight.

Security protocols we put in place to enforce the program essentially prohibit individuals other than the designated veterinarian from being in a horse stall on race day.   In fact, it was these security protocols that led to security personnel catching two of the indicted individuals in horse stalls on race day.  The horses were subsequently scratched and denied the ability to race on those days while the individual trainers were brought before the Pennsylvania Racing Commission.

Following the implementation of our Lasix program, the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC), the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and the International Federations of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) jointly issued a model regulation related to the administration of Lasix on race days.  While many racing authorities are still in the process of reviewing these model regulations, the PA HBPA and Penn National acted to voluntarily put these restriction in place because we thought it was vital to the integrity of our sport.  We take our responsibility and stewardship of the sport very seriously and our actions, such as the new Lasix program and security protocols we adopted, demonstrate our commitment.

 

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