Thoroughbred trainer Robert J. Oliva has been charged by the Dauphin County district attorney in Pennsylvania with rigging a publicly exhibited contest – a first-degree misdemeanor.
Oliva, 60, is the fifth trainer to be brought up on state charges in an ongoing investigation into illegal medication practices and corruption at Penn National racetrack in Grantville, Pa. The probe began more than five years ago when the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicted a number of veterinarians, trainers and racetrack employees on federal charges.
Among those pleading guilty in exchange for their cooperation were four veterinarians who outlined to authorities how they treated horses within 24 hours of races with therapeutic medications in violation of state law. Only the anti-bleeding diuretic furosemide is permitted on race day. Part of the alleged scheme involved altering the dates of treatment on records and invoices. One trainer, Murray Rojas, was found guilty in a federal jury trial of misbranding drugs and is awaiting sentencing. The jury found her not guilty on federal wire fraud charges.
Oliva, who began training in 2012, has a career record of 82 wins from 1,065 starts for earnings of $1.8 million. In 2018, he's won seven of 108 starts.
The court docket sites five occasions in October 2013 when Oliva allegedly rigged publicly exhibited contests at Penn National. Previously named on similar charges since early September are trainers George R. “Rusty” Albright, John D. Conner, Bruce Kravets and Brandon L. Kulp.
The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission has taken no regulatory action against any of the five trainers recently charged.
Oliva, who was served with the criminal complaint Oct. 19, has a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Lowell A. Witmer on Nov. 29.
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