UPDATED: Racing Con Man Pippin Arrested; Investigators Seek Potential Victims

by | 12.21.2015 | 11:14pm
Jonathan Pippin, aka Jon Hughes, Jo Michael and Jonathan Pittman

Jonathan Pippin, subject of a 2014 article in the Paulick Report alleging a variety of deceitful practices in the horse industry, was arrested by federal authorities last Friday and is being held in Santa Ana, Calif.

Pippin appeared before a federal magistrate in Southern California on Tuesday and was denied bail, according to  Mandala Investigations, Inc., a San Dimas, Calif., firm that is representing some of the alleged fraud victims and has been working with federal prosecutors. The firm said Pippin was charged with wire fraud and money laundering and will be extradited to his native Ohio. A public defender was appointed to handle his case.

Pippin, a licensed horse owner who was active on Twitter as a gambler and tout under the name @BacksideTips, sold fractional shares in horses, some of which he apparently didn't own. He enticed a number of professional athletes in Cleveland to invest in a short-lived racing stable that he managed and convinced a sportswriter in his hometown paper of Logan, Ohio, to write a story about his success with horses, including a Kentucky Derby contender to which he had no actual connection.

A number of people spoke to the Paulick Report about Pippin's activities, saying they invested money in his horses and never received receipts, bills of sale, or invoices for training costs or other expenses. Many tried to get their money back, feeling they had been conned, and in some cases he returned a portion or all of their money. A number of investors said they were cheated. At least two states, Ohio and Kentucky, put a “stop” on his owner's license.

Pippin has allegedly worked different kinds of confidence games in 2015, including collecting money on high-end tickets for sporting events – among them the Kentucky Derby – then failing to produce the tickets. He is the defendant in at least two lawsuits in Ohio, but plaintiffs have been unable to serve papers against him.

For much of 2015, Pippin has been based in Southern California and Las Vegas, allegedly using different aliases, including Jon or Jonathan Hughes, Jo Michael, and Jonathan Pittman.

Mandala Investigations Inc. of San Dimas, Calif., has been working with federal authorities on behalf of some of Pippin's alleged victims, and they are seeking information from anyone who feels they may have been victimized by him.

Mandala Investigations can be contacted at (877) 290-3131 or [email protected]

  • Fallow1

    Shame it took so long to shut the swine down

  • Charles Smith

    I wish I had a dollar for every tout, grifter, flim flam artist and confidence man circulating on the front and back sides of race tracks in North America.

  • Zanytactics

    Shame on this con artist for ripping off people. Ditto to the greedy idiots for falling to his schemes.

  • Jack Frazier

    Unfortunately he is not the only one just one who got caught. Also in California a few years ago, several high profile trainers were caught by an owner who is still active, for selling horses they did not own. From what I have heard, it is a common practice and has driven several very big owners away. Hope this jerk gets what he deserves but it won’t change the culture of grifters in the business. This is just another of many things wrong with racing.

    • greg

      Frank Monteleone was caught selling 1/4 of a horse to ~10 people, sold a cheap horse as a Chilean Stakes horse, blah blah, he wasn’t prosecuted as he said he would turn in the trainers who were cheating, etc. he never did and he was never prosecuted, what a shock, the CHRB doesn’t follow thru with penalties

      • Jack Frazier

        Actually knew that as well as the other trainers involved but did not mention names. It is a shock that the ineptitude of racing officials shows glaringly.

  • gls

    It’s always amazed me how successful people’s minds turn to sh%t when they enter the horse business.

  • Kathy Young

    It’s not just racing that gets a bad rap from con artists. As “gls” says below, it’s the horse BUSINESS that is peppered with crooks.

    • JerseyGirl

      Every business is peppered with crooks, right to the top?

  • Thinker

    Anyone remember Robert Brennan? He did some time for fraud in selling shares of his horses among other things. (Due Process Stables)

    • Carol

      I dont remember Bob Brennan doing time for selking shares in horses. The horses he had in training with us such as Squan Song and Fobby Forbes he very much loved and enjoyed.

      • Carol


  • Thinker

    There was a Jersey owner who was convicted of the same thing. I have been banned from mentioning his name but he had Hurry Up Blue and Due Process Stables.

  • we’re watching

    guys and dolls, anyone?

  • Rich

    Bob Brennan wasn’t convicted for anything having to do with horses, and, in fact, his most egregious crime – the one they finally got him for – was thumbing his nose at the SEC. This fellow Pippin got caught because his operation was too amateurish – which is unfortunate, given that this industry has long had plenty of polished professionals doing essentially the same thing he’s been doing…only better.

    • Faraz

      He’s just really good and his operation was mildly sophisticated. He had an accomplice. The things he did, spoofing ANI etc, isn’t that hard. He wasn’t very smart in certain ways but if he had planned more, he would had been incredibly dangerous.

  • Didn’t he also hide assets, such as a golf course, and during this stay in prison had his sentence lengthened because of it?

    • Tinky

      Not sure, but it would have been – want for it – par for the course!

      He was released from prison in 2011, and some joked that the state of NJ had people with shovels following him around, hoping to recover some of the tens of millions that he buried somewhere.

    • Kevin Callinan

      Yes he did, from the bankruptcy court, over 25M so he just finished doing the max. He is still rumored to have a stash overseas. He happened to own Deputy Minister who has turned out to be a foundation stallion. His LLC also owned Garden State Park. He was a player, this guy seems like a grifter.

  • L

    I knew Jonathan Pippin in 2005 -2006 and was around him
    often. The dude was always very shady and seemed to be consumed with deceit. At
    the time he told me he was playing for the Columbus Destroyers arena football
    team. Yet, when I asked him how come he wasn’t on the roster; he stated it’s
    because he was on the practice team as a kicker. Complete B.S. I really believe he is a compulsive
    liar to feed his social status as well as his pocket.

  • c

    The sickestbpart of this whole thing is his alias Jonathan Hughes…was a boy he went to high school with who tragically died in a fatal car accident about 4 years ago..that’s so wrong.

    • Z

      Jonathan is the brother of the young man who died in the car accident. He sought out the family during their time of grief. Supposedly had horses running in memory of their son etc. Took the family to Cavs games schmoozed etc. He stole the brothers identity which is one of the most honest young men around

  • Mary Moore

    Just look at him. He looks like there’s something wrong with him.

  • Kathy Young

    One down, how many more to go?

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