Federal Judge Gives Veterinarians Probation In Penn National Corruption Case

by | 12.25.2019 | 2:33pm

More than four years after pleading guilty to charges of misbranding of drugs and conspiracy to misbrand in connection with an FBI investigation of corrupt practices at Penn National race course in Grantville, Pa., veterinarians Kevin Brophy, Fernando Motta, Christopher Korte and Renee Nodine were given two years probation and fined $5,000 each on Dec. 19 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The quartet faced up to two years in federal prison.

The racetrack practitioners admitted to treating horses with a variety of therapeutic medications within 24 hours of a race in violation of state regulations. The violations took place over a number of years, dating back to the 1980s in some cases.

All four veterinarians cooperated with the FBI and state officials during an investigation that led to guilty pleas by a number of individuals ranging from trainers to a racing office employee and clocker.

One trainer, Murray Rojas, was found guilty in a jury trial and sentenced to 27 months in federal prison. She has appealed the conviction and remains free.

Testimony given during the Rojas trial indicated trainers routinely submitted prescription drug orders to veterinarians to illegal administer substances on race day and then backdate invoices and paperwork submitted to officials to avoid detection. One witness, trainer Stephanie Beattie, former president of the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, testified under oath that “95 to 98%” of Penn National trainers cheated. “It was a known practice,” Beattie said. “We wanted to win and they weren't testing for those drugs at that time.”

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