Horse Trainer Pleads Guilty to Rigging Races
A Central Pennsylvania thoroughbred horse trainer who races horses at Penn National Race Course in Grantville pled guilty in Dauphin County Court in Harrisburg yesterday to rigging races by administering drugs to horses on race day in violation of rules and regulations banning such treatment.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office announced that David J. Wells, 50, Grantville, pled guilty before Court of Common Pleas Judge Deborah E. Curcillo to a charge of rigging publicly exhibited contests, in this case, thoroughbred races at Penn National Race Course. The offense is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Judge Curcillo ordered the preparation of a presentence investigation report and set sentencing for January 29, 2015.
The prosecution stemmed from an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Racing Commission, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office into alleged wrongdoing in races at Penn National Race Course. As part of the investigation, Daniel Robertson, the official clocker at Penn National, was indicted in U.S. District Court on federal wire fraud charges in November 2013 and pleaded guilty on July 22, 2014.
The Wells investigation was transferred to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution of the violation of state law. Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe was specially appointed by Dauphin County District Attorney Edward Marsico as a Deputy District Attorney to handle the Wells prosecution.
At the guilty plea hearing yesterday, Wells admitted that he orally or by hypodermic injection illegally administered drugs to horses he trained and raced to give him and his horses an advantage in the races and that he was fully aware that this was in violation of racing rules and regulations. Wells also said that efforts were made to conceal this activity from the public and the Racing Commission. The criminal complaint, filed in October 2014, alleged that the activity took place between 2008 and 2012.