Chad Harmon

Pretrial Hearings Set for Penn National Cases

Pretrial hearings set for three trainers and clocker facing federal charges.

Pretrial hearings have been set for three Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course-based horsemen, and a clocker at the Grantville, Pa., track, who were arrested on federal charges Nov. 22.

Pretrial hearings have been set for trainers David Wells and Sam Webb, as well as assistant trainer Patricia Rogers, who each face federal fraud charges related to medication violations. The pretrial hearings are scheduled 9:30 a.m. EST Jan. 13, 2014, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Track clocker Danny Robertson also is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing at that time. Robertson was arrested on charges related to reporting false workout times.

Peter Smith, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said Wells, Webb, and Rogers defrauded bettors who wagered on Thoroughbred races at Penn National by attempting to administer, and administering in violation of state racing rules and regulations, substances prohibited from being introduced into a horse within 24 hours of when the horse is scheduled to race.

The indictment alleges it is a violation of state law to rig or attempt to rig a publicly exhibited contest such as a Thoroughbred horse race. Federal authorities are involved because, as the indictment notes, Penn National races are simulcast, and wagers accepted, at approximately 116 sites across the U.S. and in other countries by wire and television.

According to the indictment, Robertson allegedly was given cash to provide false workout times to racing officials and to Equibase. He allegedly, at times, included completely fabricated times for horses that did not work at all at the track. The indictment alleges Robertson profited personally from the scheme, while the betting public and Robertson's employer, the track, were defrauded.

The investigation continues and it is being conducted by the Harrisburg, Pa., office of the FBI, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, the state police, the Dauphin County District Attorney, and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.