Chapa Pleads Guilty To Making False Statements In Sam Houston ‘Buzzer’ Case

by | 11.15.2017 | 6:40pm
The photo that led to Roman Chapa's five-year suspension and criminal charges (Coady Photography)

Jockey Roman Chapa has pleaded guilty in Harris County District Court in Texas to making false statements to a Texas Department of Public Safety officer investigating whether Chapa carried an illegal electrical device aboard Quiet Acceleration, first-place finisher of the Richard King Turf Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on Jan. 17, 2015.

Chapa, 46, was given an order of deferred adjudication and placed on probation – or community supervision as it is known in Texas – for 10 years. A second criminal charge against Chapa, unlawful influence on racing, was dismissed because of his conviction for making false statements, according to court records.

Chapa has been suspended five years through Jan. 18, 2020, and fined $25,000 by the Sam Houston Race Park board of stewards for multiple violations related to alleged possession of an illegal device, commonly called a buzzer, battery or machine, in the aforementioned race. Pursuant to the authority given to Texas Racing Commission executive secretary Chuck Trout, the fine was increased to $100,000. Trout's order cited the fact this was Chapa's third violation for possession of a prohibited device. Quiet Acceleration was disqualified from the race and the purse redistributed.

Roman Chapa

Chapa was charged with making false statements after being interviewed Jan. 19, 2015, about his ride aboard Quiet Acceleration by Texas Department of Public Safety officer Jeffrey Bell, Texas Racing Commission investigator Melvin Bell and Sam Houston Race Park director of security Donald Ahrens. During the recorded interview, Chapa denied contacting Sam Houston track photographer Jack Coady about a photograph on the track's website (and subsequently published in the Paulick Report and other publications) showing an object that appeared to be a prohibited electrical device in the jockey's left hand.

Coady's cell phone records showed otherwise, according to the criminal complaint; there were multiple calls and text messages from Chapa's phone to Coady about the photograph the day after the race. Coady told investigators Chapa asked him to remove the photo from the Sam Houston Race Park website. Chapa reportedly told authorities the photo was altered.

According to the conditions of his community supervision, Chapa is not to violate any laws, consume alcohol or leave a specific area in Texas without prior written permission. His community supervision is being transferred from Harris County to Charlotte in Atascosa County. Upon successful completion of the community supervision, the false statements charge against Chapa may be dismissed.

Chapa began his Thoroughbred riding career in 1993 and has won 1,711 races from 10,179 starts and his mounts have earned in excess of $25 million.

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