California trainer Frank Monteleone has reached settlement with two clients that a district judge in Nevada found Monteleone had defrauded in the purchase and training of two European horses. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Bringing to a close a decade-long conflict, the settlement was reached last month while the original civil court default judgment was being appealed by Monteleone. The case was closed Feb. 3.
"There is no case. There is no appeal. It's over," Monteleone said when reached by phone Feb. 10. "You'll have to contact my attorney for anything further."
Monteleone and assistant trainer Linda Mikus had been found liable for compensatory and punitive damages totaling $635,000 by District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti in a Las Vegas ruling handed down May 4. The judgment was stayed pending Monteleone's appeal.
His attorney, Glenn F. Meier of Las Vegas, could not be reached for comment. However, Meier's assistant, Angela Embrey, confirmed that an agreement was reached during a recent settlement conference, bringing to a close the civil litigation.
The California Horse Racing Board has taken no action on the matter, which stems from a 1997 complaint to racing investigators. After consulting with the board's executive director, Ingrid Fermin, and board president John Harris, CHRB spokesman Mike Marten said, "It's a law enforcement matter about which the California Horse Racing Board has no comment."
Horse owners Joseph Hirshfeld and Ron Holguin brought the action in 1998, contending they had been defrauded of $100,000 in the purchase and training of two European Thoroughbreds that the court later agreed were neither purchased nor trained by Monteleone.
According to court documents, the owners had agreed to buy the two horses after initial discussions with Monteleone in 1995. Training, veterinary, transportation and farrier costs for the two turf runners - Malrome and Musilumieres - were also paid by Hirshfeld and Holguin, who became suspicious when the horses were scratched for various reasons whenever they were close to a race.
Hirshfeld complained to authorities. A subsequent investigation by CHRB chief investigator Robert Nieto found that the two horses had never been sold by their separate French connections and neither had been exported to the United States.