May 2015 Issue - page 11

May 2015
Page 11
Penn National Race Course Veterinarians Arrested Following FBI Investigation
Is this the Beginning
or the End?
While Penn National seems
to be the hot zone, there are
indications that other racetracks
in the area may be under in-
vestigation as well. The U.S.
Attorney’s office in Harrisburg
refused to comment on questions
about whether investigations
are ongoing at other race tracks,
and whether the investigation
at Penn National has conclud-
ed. They have also not released
specific information about the
(Continued from page 1)
types of drugs involved. Several
calls seeking comment from Eric
Johnston, Director of Racing
Operations at Penn National were
not returned.
The issue of drugs in horserac-
ing has attracted the attention of
several legislators in Washington.
Representative Joe Pitts (R., PA)
has co-sponsored the Horseracing
Safety and Integrity Act, aimed at
attacking what Pitts believes to be
“a pervasive drug culture” in the
sport. He and others want to create
a “sound, national framework that
would protect the horses, the riders
and the public.”
Industry leaders point to
the erosion of confidence in the
integrity of horse racing as the
cause of declining revenue from
betting. In a poll conducted by
The Jockey Club, 80 percent of
bettors claimed that the pos-
sibility of drugs influencing
races factored into their bets at
certain racetracks. According to
The Blood Horse,
wagering at U.S. racetracks
declined in 2014, continuing a
nearly eight-year trend.
The New
York Times
has reported that
there are additional factors that
are contributing to the decline
in the public’s interest in horse
racing. But clearly the “aroma”
of corruption is one significant
A Critical Juncture for
PA’s Equine Industry
Horseracing is the most
consistently visible aspect of
Pennsylvania’s huge equine
industry. And the racetracks at the
state’s casinos have been fueling
extensive growth of the indus-
try. That in turn has protected
more open space, brought more
horse farms to the state, created
revenue streams that support
trainers, veterinarians, jockeys,
feed dealers. Every horse owner
in the state derives either direct or
indirect benefits from the casino
industry, which would not exist
if there were no racetracks. And
the casinos have helped fund nu-
merous other projects that benefit
Pennsylvanians. So what happens
at the casinos doesn’t necessarily
stay at the casinos.
The four veterinarians
charged in this latest episode at
Penn National were scheduled to
appear in court in mid-April. In
the meantime, each of their rac-
ing licenses has been revoked.
A press release from the
United States Attorney’s Office
for the Middle District of
Pennsylvania announced that
on April 15, Dr. Kevin Brophy,
age 60, Florida, Dr. Fernando
Motta, age 44, Lancaster, PA,
and Dr. Christopher Korte, age
43, Pueblo, Colorado, pleaded
guilty before U.S. Magistrate
Judge Susan E. Schwab in
Harrisburg. Dr. Renee Nodine,
age 52, Annville, pleaded guilty
April 14.
According to U.S. Attorney
Peter Smith, the four defendants
were each charged in separate
criminal Informations on March
26 for their involvement in ille-
gally treating thoroughbred race
horses on race day at Penn Na-
tional Race Track in Grantville,
Pennsylvania. Each defendant is
charged with allegedly admin-
istering drugs to horses within
24 hours of when the horse was
entered to race. This conduct was
in violation of the state law pro-
hibiting the rigging of publicly
exhibited contests and regula-
tions prohibiting the administra-
tion of drugs to horses within 24
hours of when they are entered
to race. Additionally, because the
administering of the drugs was
in violation of the state criminal
laws, rules and regulations gov-
erning thoroughbred racing, they
were not dispensed in the course
of the defendants’ professional
At the guilty plea proceed-
ings before Magistrate Judge
Schwab, Assistant United
States Attorney William A.
Behe explained that the drugs
were not administered to treat
the horses but to enhance the
horses’ performance in the race
or to give it an edge over other
horses. According to Behe this
constituted misbranding of the
prescription animal drugs in
violation of federal law. The
alleged activity took place at
various times beginning as early
as 1986 and continuing up to
August, 2014.
The Informations also
allege that the defendants
conspired with horse trainers,
whose identities are “known to
the United States”, to admin-
ister the drugs in violation of
All Four
Vets Plead Guilty,
Agree to Cooperate
in Investigation
(Continued on page 15)
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