Former Penn National-based trainer Murray Rojas has been dealt another setback in her efforts to overturn a felony conviction on 13 counts of misbranding prescription drugs and one count of conspiracy.
Rojas was convicted by a jury last July on federal charges that were part of a long-running investigation by the FBI at the Grantville, Pa., racetrack that uncovered, among other things, widespread abuse of medication regulations. Four veterinarians, a racing office employee, a clocker and trainer pleaded guilty to a variety of charges. Rojas, found not guilty on wire fraud charges, faces up to three years in prison on each of the 14 felony convictions for misbranding and conspiracy.
United States District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo on April 12 denied a motion by Rojas for reconsideration of the court's denial of a previous motion for judgment of acquittal.
Attorneys for Rojas based their contention that Rambo should reconsider her decision not to overturn the jury conviction on several areas: 1) that the court “misunderstood the government's entire theory of prosecution and evidence presented in support thereof”; 2) the court's decision was made “outside of the adversarial issues presented by the parties”; 3) the court has made “an error of apprehension”; and 4) “there is a need to correct a clear error of law or fact to prevent manifest injustice.”
Rambo wrote in her memorandum that the only support Rojas offered to back up her claims is that, “contrary to what the court has found, there was no evidence presented at trial upon which the jury could have found that defendant caused prescription drugs to be unlawfully dispensed and therefore misbranded.
“As stated in the court's previous memorandum, the testimony and records of the veterinarians presented at trial was sufficient for the jury to find defendant guilty of misbrand pursuant to the Federal Drug and Cosmetic Act,” Rambo continued. “Defendant's argument is nothing more than ‘an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the court and the litigant,' … and does not provide a basis for the court to reverse its decision.”
Following the order by Rambo, the court is expected to move forward with a presentence prison report to be used to determine sentencing in the case.
The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association formed a legal defense fund to help Rojas with legal costs.
Memorandum by Sylvia Rambo, United States District Judge for Middle District of Pennsylvania
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