A New Mexico state employee is behind bars as different agencies look into his alleged involvement in the theft of four Thoroughbreds taken in 2007 from Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M.
According to New Mexico’s KRQE news website, Stephen Drake is the investigative manager for the New Mexico Racing Commission. He’s on paid administrative leave and is jailed in the Lea County Detention Center as the commission conducts an internal investigation.
Drake faces one felony count of being an accessory to larceny of livestock and four counts of accessory to export of livestock. The horses involved were Shame on Charlie, a 6-year-old full brother to Indian Blessing; Valentina Way; Dancing Squall; and American Symphony.
According to investigators, Drake helped Michael Hagan take four horses from the stables, and then got their registration papers to Hagan’s lawyer in California. Hagan has already been convicted of crimes associated with the larceny of the four horses.
According to the court documents, Hagan, who is from California, wanted the horses as collateral from a business deal that had fallen apart with New Mexico horseman Clyde Veltmann.
Drake is currently being held on a $25,000 bond, and if convicted he could face up to 10 years in prison. According to the commission, the internal investigation on the matter could take a few weeks.
In 2007, Veltmann, along with other previous co-owners of the seized horses, filed a civil lawsuit in New Mexico state court against Hagan, his California attorney George Wallace, Drake, and the New Mexico State Racing Commission.
Since filing the lawsuit, Shame on Charlie and American Symphony were given back to Veltmann; Valentina Way was euthanized in California due to a racetrack injury; and Dancing Squall, who was sold as a broodmare prospect to B. Wayne Hughes, remains at his Spendthrift Farm near Lexington until legal matters are resolved.
Click here to read an earlier report regarding this matter.