Former California Horse Racing Board chairman Richard B. Shapiro pleaded "no contest" Aug. 18 to a misdemeanor charge of vandalism in connection with the "keying" of a vehicle owned by one of Shapiro's harshest critics during his time on the board.
The 56-year-old Shapiro was sentenced to three years of informal probation and ordered to pay restitution of $6,800 to horse owner Jerry Jamgotchian to cover the damage to the victim's 2008 black Jaguar sedan. One side of Jamgotchian's car was heavily scratched by a key or blunt instrument as it sat unattended in the Hollywood Park lot during a CHRB meeting at the nearby Hollywood Park Casino April 24.
Shapiro also agreed to pay a $100 fine, with additional penalties and assessments, in lieu of working three days of community service. He was scheduled to appear at the Inglewood courthouse for setting of a preliminary hearing into the case after pleading not guilty to felony vandalism July 24. Instead, he opted to plead to the lesser charge offered by the county district attorney's office before court commissioner John R. Johnson.
"He had some options, but he felt it was in his best interest to do this now and to close this chapter of his life," said Shapiro's attorney, Philip Israels.
A "no contest" plea cannot be used against Shapiro in a civil complaint or other legal proceeding, the attorney noted.
Jamgotchian filed a civil complaint July 13 against Shapiro over the incident that is pending in Los Angeles Superior Court.
After the brief court appearance, in which the two rivals shook hands afterward, Jamgotchian pledged to pursue his efforts to get the CHRB to revoke Shapiro's racing license and have him ruled off all California racetracks. He contends that a memo written in January by Kirk Breed, the CHRB's executive director, would make a licensee on legal probation ineligible until the restrictions end.
"It is now absolutely incumbent, pursuant to CHRB rules, that the CHRB hold a hearing to consider further fines, penalties and/or suspension of Mr. Shapiro's license as well as the exclusion of Shapiro from all California racing enclosures for up to three years," Jamgotchian said in an e-mail after the hearing.
"I will seek, among other things, a written apology from Shapiro to all members of the California horseracing industry for his despicable and embarrassing conduct relating to this crime," Jamgotchian added. "Additionally, I will also seek punitive and other compensatory damages from Shapiro for his vandalism of my automobile."
Shapiro, a victim in the Bernie Madoff investment scandal, resigned from the CHRB in December after four years as chairman. There was often friction between Shapiro, a forceful advocate for his polices, and Jamgotchian, who opposed him at nearly every turn. Since then, Shapiro has acted as a consultant for the California Horse Racing Alliance, a group that promotes the state's racetracks and horsemen's organizations.