U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
(717) 221-4482
February 23, 2015

Horse Trainer Sentenced for Rigging Races

A Central Pennsylvania thoroughbred horse trainer who raced horses at Penn National Race Course in Grantville was in Dauphin County Court in Harrisburg was sentenced today 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, was sentenced today by Court of Common Pleas Judge Deborah E. Curcillo to 6 months in prison for rigging publicly exhibited contests, in this case, thoroughbred races at Penn National Race Course. Wells was sentenced to five years intermediate punishment with the first 6 months in prison. The first 3 months are to be served in the Dauphin County Prison followed by 3 month’s confinement in Dauphin County Prison’s secure work release center.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Wells was charged in October 2014 and plead guilty in December 2014. At the guilty plea proceeding, Wells admitted that he orally or by hypodermic injection illegally administered drugs to horses he trained and raced in order to give him and his horses an advantage in the races. Wells admitted that he was fully aware that this was in violation of the criminal laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as racing rules and regulations. Wells also admitted that efforts were made to conceal this activity from the public and the Racing Commission. The activity took place between 2009 and 2013.

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 as part of plea negotiations between Wells and the United States. Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe was specially appointed by Dauphin County District Attorney Edward Marsico as a Special Assistant District Attorney to handle the Wells prosecution and other related prosecutions that may arise from the ongoing federal investigation.

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