HARRISBURG (AP) — Federal prosecutors pursuing doping allegations at a central Pennsylvania racetrack are trying to criminalize matters routinely handled by state regulators, a defense lawyer argued Saturday.
Three trainers and a timer were arrested Friday at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, and led into federal court in handcuffs, still in their barn clothes.
The Pennsylvania “Horse Racing Commission looked at the facts of this matter and decided that Mrs. (Patricia) Rogers should be suspended,” defense lawyer Alan Pincus of Las Vegas told The Associated Press on Saturday. “To try to take the same set of facts and call it a crime is a new theory on the part of the prosecutor.”
The indictment unsealed Friday charges that Rogers, a 43-year-old horse trainer from Hummelstown, was caught trying to inject a horse named Strong Resolve at the track in August. The horse was pulled from the race.
Federal prosecutors argue that doping — using drugs to bolster a horse’s performance — defrauds bettors, both at Penn National and those watching on videos simulcast around the world.
“The trainers, like the owners, stand to profit financially from the purse offered for that race if the horse that is entered finishes in first, second or third place,” prosecutors said in a press release.
The other trainers charged are David J. Wells, 39, of Grantville, and Sam Webb, 63, of Jonestown.
Security caught Webb preparing to inject a horse named Papaleo in May, prosecutors said. Wells, a trainer and horse owner, allegedly used banned substances on horses for several years, through early 2012. Penn National timer Danny L. Robertson, 63, of Hershey, allegedly took bribes to report false workout times to racing officials.
All four defendants pleaded not guilty and were released pending a January trial.
“We believe that no crime has been committed and the entire matter should have remained an administrative issue and not a criminal one,” Pincus said.