Tanaka Still Awaits Sentencing

Gary Tanaka has not yet been sentenced on securities fraud violations.

Gary Tanaka, the prominent Thoroughbred owner who was convicted on three of 12 counts relating to securities fraud last November, has still not been sentenced by the judge in the case.

Tanaka and his partner in Amerindo Investment Advisors, Alberto Vilar, were charged more than four years ago with conspiracy, fraud, and lying to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Tanaka has been under virtual house arrest before and after the trial in New York, and has been unable to see his wife and youngest children, who live in London, England, since he was charged.

“You can’t appeal the verdict until you’re sentenced, and there is still no sentencing date on the docket,” Tanaka said from his Manhattan apartment. “Basically, they nailed us on technicalities. There are no victims. Nobody lost money. Now you have super-frauds like (Bernard) Madoff who wiped people out.

"Nobody lost money with us, and the feds are trying to put us away for long-term sentences when there are no victims. They wasted $14 million and four years on us. It doesn’t make sense."

Said Tanaka’s attorney, Glenn Colton: “This delay is longer than usual between the end of a trial and sentencing. Mr. Vilar has changed legal counsel several times, and the complexity of the issues raised has caused some of the delay. We have filed our sentencing memoranda. The government is due to file theirs in October. After we reply to that, then the judge will decide whether to hold a witness hearing as part of the sentencing proceeding. My best guess would be late November or early December for sentencing.

“The government is looking to impose a life sentence, for all practical purposes, of 30 years (Tanaka is 66). But the court is empowered to do whatever it feels is just. It can impose anything between zero and 30 years. Our argument is he has suffered enough, and that probation would be the appropriate remedy, and we hope the court sees it that way. The government’s attempt to impose a life sentence when, at most, one witness at trial lost money, is a completely overblown and over-reaching attempt at a Draconian sentence.”

Tanaka still maintains a stable of about 20 horses that are competing overseas. California stewards revoked Tanaka’s license following his conviction, and Tanaka is afraid other U.S. jurisdictions would follow if he attempted to run horses in other states.

“The stewards have the choice to bounce you out on any grounds,” Tanaka said. “I guess California thinks I’m a bad guy. I believe the grounds are whether I’m good or bad for the sport. For 15 years, I could argue I’ve been pretty good for the game, and this (conviction) has nothing to do with anything.

"But it’s a judgment call. When a trainer gets suspended, he just puts an assistant in charge. For owners, it’s not quite that easy.”

Tanaka’s 6-year-old horse Pressing, last year’s champion older horse in Italy, won the second consecutive running of the International Topkapi Trophy (Turk--II) in Istanbul, Turkey, Sept. 3. The son of Soviet Star is a group I winner in Italy and Germany and a seven-time stakes winner who has earned $1,891,212.  

Tanaka has raced grade/group I winners Millkom, Donna Viola, Golden Apples, Gourmet Girl, King's Drama, Lovellon, Passinetti, Pico Central, Snow Polina, Squeak, Sarafan, Polaire, Star Parade, and Queen Maud.