Former Owner Guilty of Embezzlement

A former leading owner at Rockingham Park has pled guilty to federal charges of embezzlement and tax evasion. Paul R. Blanchette will be sentenced in March and is expected to serve 57 months in prison on the federal charges, following a plea agreement reached since his arrest last April. He is also expected to change his plea to guilty on the state charges he is facing -- more than 100 counts of larceny -- when he returns to court this month. Blanchett is currently lodged in a Rhode Island federal prison.

The Hartford Courant reported the 48-year-old Blanchette, who was the co-owner of D & H Stables, embezzled over $5.5 million from Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical School in Charlton, Mass. The embezzlement occurred over the course of several years while he served as business manager and treasurer of the school.

Blanchett co-owned D & H Stables, which he started in 1995 with about six horses. He expanded his operation to 40 Thoroughbreds, most of which ran in the claiming ranks. Blanchette was elected to the board of directors of the New England Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association. He received the New England Turf Writers Association award in 1999 for his horse, Rally Cat's Gold. At Rockingham Park, D & H Stable earned the highest purse in 1999 with a total of $213,194, and in 1998, his stable ranked second with earnings of $146,957. Besides Rally Cat's Gold, D & H Stable campaigned Bewitching Star and Foreign Flame.