Three Pennsylvania-based Thoroughbred trainers and a clocker employed by Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Grantville, Pa., pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday to charges they defrauded the public and were released, pending a January trial.
Trainers David Wells, Sam Webb, and Patricia Rogers were charged with attempting to commit wire fraud and use of an interstate facility to promote gambling in violation of the law for allegedly treating their horses illegally with drugs prior to races that were to be broadcast across state lines. Danny Robertson was charged with wire fraud and use of an interstate facility to promote gambling in violation of the law for allegedly accepting cash to provide false workout times to Equibase, North America's official horse racing database. Rogers was also accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
All four were arrested Friday morning at Penn National as part of an ongoing state and federal investigation that involved the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, and a federal grand jury. Their licenses have been suspended indefinitely by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, pending the outcome of the criminal cases.
While unlikely to see such extreme penalties, each of the accused faces up to 25 years of imprisonment and fines of $500,000. Rogers faces an additional potential 20-year term and $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
Click here for the Department of Justice statements, links to the indictments, and comments from Penn National Gaming and the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
Harrisburg television stations staked out the federal courthouse for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and attempted to speak with the trainers. Wells, the best known of the trio for his handling of record-setting Eclipse Award winner Rapid Redux during a 22-race winning streak from 2010-12, was caught by CBS-21 cameras sprinting away to avoid the camera crews
Meanwhile, casino and racegoers told the Patriot News they weren't surprised to learn that horses allegedly were being drugged to win races. “It's kind of sad, actually, but I think this sort of stuff happens a lot, they just crack down on it every once in a while,” Marti Howard, a longtime Penn National attendee told the newspaper. “I feel bad for the horses, really.”
Another racegoer, identified by the paper as Floyd Dillman of Schuylkill County, was quoted as saying, “To give any animal drugs is terrible. I hope they throw the book at (the defendands), I'm against giving any animal drugs.”
Read more at PennLive.com.
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