Jockeys, Owners Plead Innocent on Race-Fixing Charges

The jockeys and horse owners charged with race-fixing at Penn National Race Course pleaded innocent Tuesday to the federal charges, the Associated Press reported.

One of the owners and five of the jockeys involved in the case were arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa. The other owner and another jockey were arraigned two weeks ago. They are scheduled to go to trial Dec. 4.

U.S. attorney David Barasch announced indictments against the men in September. The charges resulted from a probe at the track by the FBI, the Thoroughbred Racing Protection Bureau, and the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.

Barasch said the two horse owners, Neil McElwee, of Harrisburg, and George Berryhill, 70, of Lebanon, Pa., paid one of the jockeys, Ramon Pena, to act as a middleman.

Pena was arraigned Tuesday along with Lazaro Vives, Luis Morales, Rocky Jurado, and Andres Reyes. Berryhill and jockey Felix Pinero were arraigned in federal court Oct. 10.

The men who pleaded innocent were released on their own recognizance by U.S. Middle District Magistrate J. Andrew Smyser. Federal authorities said the owners paid bribes of up to $1,000 to the jockeys, who were instructed to hold back favored mounts to give horses with longer odds a better shot at winning or hitting the board.

The races in question occurred from January to May at the Grantville, Pa., racetrack. If convicted under federal charges of bribery or attempted bribery to affect the outcome of a sporting contest, the jockeys and owners face up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

A seventh jockey, Manuel Torres, has not yet been arraigned. The court must check to make sure his summons was properly served.