New York Regulators Strip Licenses of Illegal Aliens

State regulators have taken the formal step of stripping the racing licenses of seven illegal immigrants who were arrested while working as grooms and exercise riders at Saratoga in July.

They were among 17 people arrested in an early-morning raid at their bunkhouses. The other 10 individuals were not licensed by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, officials said.

The seven individuals obtained their licenses from the regulatory agency after having provided false documentation at the time of their application and required fingerprinting, officials said. The seven illegal immigrants, who racing officials believe have already been deported to Mexico and Chile, worked for trainers Richard Dutro, Phil Serpe, Todd Pletcher, Christophe Clement, Leroy Jolley, and Bruce Levine.

"They were duped," racing board spokeswoman Stacy Clifford said of the trainers. "They provided false identification to them and to us. The trainers thought they were legal citizens.''

Clifford said the racing board is drafting new rules to tighten procedures that would require applicants to submit only authorized forms of identification at the time of their fingerprinting, among other things. A less-aggressive security check is taken for workers such as grooms and exercise riders compared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprinting done for jockeys and trainers.

The seven individuals are Jose Rodriquez, Roblero Rodriquez, Marco Salas, Joaquin Espinoza, Delfino Mejia, Armando Rico, and Julio Salas.

At the time of the arrests, the embattled New York Racing Association was quick to note the workers were not its employees, and that they had been licensed by the state. NYRA said SafirRosetti, a consulting firm hired in the midst of various investigations into NYRA's operations, would be looking at ways to prevent illegal aliens from working at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga.