Federal Trial Of Trainer Murray Rojas Set To Begin June 19

by | 06.16.2017 | 9:50am
Penn National Racecourse

Nearly two years after her first indictment, the trial of Pennsylvania trainer Murray Rojas is scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa. The trainer is alleged to have illegally administered or directed administration of drugs to dozens of starters within 24 hours of post time over a period of five years. Rojas faces 47 counts of wire fraud, attempted conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to defraud, and misbranding of prescription drugs.

Rojas has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The government's assertion is that Rojas administered or directed unindicted veterinarians to administer substances to horses within 24 hours of racing, including Acetylcysteine, ACTH, Banamine, Dexamethasone, ECP, Estrone, Ketoprofen, Legend, Robaxin, and Robinol. According to the superseding indictment filed earlier this year, the veterinarians would then provide false treatment forms to the Pennsylvania Racing Commission to conceal the administrations.

Pennsylvania law permits only furosemide (Lasix) to be administered to horses within 24 hours of a race.

Purse money in the races Rojas' horses contested was paid by interstate electronic transfer of funds, which prompted the federal charges related to the alleged wire fraud scheme.

According to the second superseding indictment, misbranding charges stem from the allegation Rojas dispensed prescription animal drugs without written or verbal order of a licensed veterinarian.

Rojas' attorney, Robert E. Goldman, petitioned unsuccessfully last month to have the counts of misbranding from the second superseding indictment dropped.

Between 2012 and 2015, Rojas cooperated with the FBI in part of a long-running investigation into illegal activity at Penn National Race Course, which ultimately resulted in charges against other trainers, veterinarians, a racing official, and a clocker.

According to testimony from FBI special agent Bruce Doupe in a suppression hearing sought by Rojas in 2016, Rojas had been providing Doupe with information regarding which horsemen and officials were engaged in wrongdoing, saying she wanted to “clean up the racing industry.” In the course of those investigations, the FBI interviewed veterinarians who provided agents with equine medical records. Some of those records indicated Rojas was “conducting the same type of criminal activity that she was giving me information on other people,” according to Doupe.

Rojas began training in 2000, according to Equibase, and has not started a horse since her original indictment in August 2015.

Federal officials told the Paulick Report earlier this year that if convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $5.2 million in a forfeiture judgment against her.

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