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Trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis entered pleas of not guilty to federal charges of involvement in a misbranding conspiracy during an April 2 teleconference arraignment before United States District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. Navarro and Servis are among 19 defendants in United States vs. Jorge Navarro, et al., who face misbranding charges stemming from the March 9 indictments of the two trainers and 25 others in four separate cases of conspiracies to manufacture, distribute, and administer adulterated or misbranded performance-enhancing drugs that were administered to racehorses. All 19 of the defendants entered a plea of not guilty in a case presented by the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York. Navarro and Ross Cohen, a former harness racing trainer, were the only defendants who participated in the call. The rest were represented by their attorney. Navarro said little more than "not guilty" during the arraignment. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Adams said during the arraignment that the evidence collected by the government was voluminous, with much of it from wiretaps, leading to projections of a discovery period that could last for about six months. That would likely push the start of the trial into 2021. In describing the case, Adams said it was a case that has "focused on doping and the use of performance-enhancing drugs to win professional horse races in the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries. It has involved a number of different forms information-collecting that would include in-person meetings and covertly recorded meetings by confidential sources. It cites a number of wiretaps over a series of phones and in a total span of one year of time." The federal prosecutor assigned to the case added that there were search warrants for a place "where a horse under Mr. Servis' control was located, and at a bar, and what the government will describe as a small pharmacy controlled by (defendant Christopher Oakes)." He also said there were warrants and searches of several cell phones, bank records, and "the fruits of grand jury investigations." Adams said that roughly 17 of the 19 defendants had at least one cell phone seized by the government and computers were also taken for evidence. He said the investigation is still going on and there could be additional indictments pending the information gleaned from records and documents still coming into the government. Attorney Robert Baum, counsel for defendant Alexander Chan, spoke on behalf of a consortium of the defendants' attorneys, saying wire taps involved seven defendants and there are "tens of thousands" of conversations. He added that motions being contemplated will be "extremely lengthy, complex and extensive. We are talking about motions involving the wire taps, search warrants, statements, the seizure of physical evidence. There may be motions attacking the government's intent to resent scientific evidence." During the proceedings, which were conducted by teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Vyskocil ordered the government and counsel for all of the defendants to submit a revised bail agreement to her by April 6. The indictment claims Navarro "executed this scheme by using PEDs designed to evade drug tests, physically concealing containers of PEDs and drug paraphernalia from state regulators and racing officials, administering and directing others to covertly administer PEDs, and shipping certain products designed to mask the presence of PEDs through a straw purchaser." It also charged that Servis "orchestrated a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering adulterated and misbranded PEDs, including a PED called SGF-1000, to virtually all of the racehorses under his control." Navarro is a seven-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park and the leader at the 2018-19 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park, while Servis is best known for training the 2019 3-year-old champion male, Maximum Security, who won the $20 million Saudi Cup Feb. 29 and was disqualified from first to 17th for a racetrack foul in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). On the indictment, the defendants are listed in order as Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Gregory Skelton, Cohen, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., Oakes, Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley Jr., Chan, Henry Argueta, Nicholas Surick, Rebecca Linke and Christopher Marino. By Bob Ehalt Reprinted with permission of the Bloodhorse

Columbus, OH — According to a story on The Paulick Report, several of the defendants in a federal case focusing on drug misbranding and the doping of racehorses will be arraigned via teleconference later this week. The defendants scheduled to be arraigned include Jorge Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Gregory Skelton, Ross Cohen, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., Christopher Oakes, Jason Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley Jr., Alexander Chan, Henry Argueta, Nicholas Surick, Rebecca Linke, and Christopher Marino. The teleconference is scheduled for April 2 at 2:30 p.m. To read the full story, click here. The USTA Communications Department

Perhaps the biggest scandal in all of U.S. sports to come out in the past year is the federal indictment of dozens of thoroughbred and harness racing insiders alleged to have been involved in doping leading racehorses. And while the initial indictments came on March 9, other indictments trickled out even as the COVID-19 disaster overtook virtually the entire news cycle. But the stunning allegations are no less stunning because of the timing. The main indictment had as its stars Monmouth Park thoroughbred big names Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis — but later ones placed Yonkers Raceway and its harness racing leading lights in its target. The Yonkers horse racing community already was reeling from the deaths of three trainers from COVID-19, including the first fatality of a New Jersey resident. Rene Allard, who at $5.8 million in purse winnings was third in the industry in North America last year, has been charged in a conspiracy involving longtime veterinarian Louis Grasso, who was indicted on Feb. 26 for allegedly misbranding drugs in interstate commerce. Last fall, according to the indictment, Grasso and another alleged co-conspirator, Ross Cohen, discussed the fact that a number of Allard’s horses had died. The disturbing conversation Cohen, according to the indictment, asked Grasso, “What’s going on with the Allard death camp?” Grasso then said “two or maybe three” horses have died from “amino acids” that caused “high fever, kidneys shut down.” “One of them just died on the table, they just cut him open and poof it died,” Grasso is alleged to have said. Cohen: “Holy f-ck f-ck did they do an autopsy.” Grasso: “Their heart rate was like triple they were breathing real heavy their membranes were going f-cking purple.” Allard — second in earnings at Yonkers so far this year — also is alleged to have sent a text message to Grasso in October 2019 that read: “I will need 3 bottles of red Acid [an anti-inflammatory drug] to go to canada Thursday.” Per the indictment, a barn raid on March 9 in Middletown, N.Y. — where Allard stabled a number of horses — led to the discovery of multiple syringes and numerous bottles of mislabeled drugs. Other harness racing figures indicted Also named is Donato Poliseno, owner of a veterinary supply business in Delaware who is alleged to have purchased and distributed PEDs from Grasso. Trainers Thomas Guido III and Conor Flynn are alleged to have obtained the PEDs from Grasso as well. Richard Banca, the leading trainer at Yonkers Raceway so far this year, was named in a separate indictment on similar charges and employed Flynn. Banca owns the Middletown, N.Y. facility that was raided, according to his indictment. “Flynn has stated, in substance and in part, that Flynn administers horses owned, trained, or otherwise under Banca’ s control, with PEDs at Banca’s direction,” the indictment alleges. Banca first rose up to the top ranks at Yonkers in 2015, producing 174 winners — more than double his previous best — and another 200 in 2016. Allard and Banca were the two trainers involved in a controversy at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 2017, when each — already banned at that track by owner Jeff Gural — turned over the reins of horses that were then allowed to race. Among the PEDs involved aside from “red acid”: Erythropoietin, better known by brand name Epogen and nicknamed “epo” in the industry and designed to improve endurance A variety of “pain shots” or “joint blocks” designed to deaden a horse’s nerves, which can result in leg fractures that require a racehorse to be euthanized Bronchodilators, or “Bronk,” designed to increase a horse’s oxygen intake The latest indictments, if proven, echo the callousness for the welfare of racehorses demonstrated in the Navarro and Servis indictments. In February 2019, Servis is alleged to have warned Navarro via text about a racing official. Navarro then allegedly told another conspirator, “He would have caught our asses f-cking pumping and pumping and fuming every f-cking horse that runs today.” By John Brennan John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record. Reprinted with permission of The njonlinegambling.com

Surveillance Firm Played Role in Federal Indictments The Jockey Club, Meadowlands employ 5 Stones intelligence. During the past four years, The Jockey Club and Meadowlands Racetrack have retained the services of a leading international investigative company, and that association might have paid a dividend in the recent federal indictments of Thoroughbred trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro as well as several harness racing trainers in a doping scheme. Through the recommendation of officials from the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency, The Jockey Club turned to 5 Stones intelligence in 2016 to provide confidential investigative services.  "It is vitally important to the sport that it is regulated competently and by authorities that are independent," said James Gagliano, the president and chief operating officer for The Jockey Club. "That is a hallmark of the Horseracing Integrity Act, and it has never been more important to the sport, given the events of this week." Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural, who operates a harness racing meet at the New Jersey racetrack, said he also employed 5 Stones and that information from 5 Stones played a role in the federal indictments of 29 people that were announced March 9-11 by the United States District Attorney, Southern District of New York. "We participated with The Jockey Club in retaining (5 Stones) to help lead the FBI in the right direction," Gural said. Gagliano said The Jockey Club is continuing its engagement with 5 Stones. He added that the indictments illustrate horse racing's urgent need to support passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, which calls for a single non-governmental, anti-doping authority to oversee medication rules and testing. "This crisis has to be a rallying point for the sport," Gagliano said. "In my view, passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act will lay the foundation for a once-in-a-century system change that puts welfare and integrity as the guiding principles of how the sport is regulated." Gural echoed the call for passage of the HIA, saying racetracks have been turning a blind eye to cheaters for far too long. "All the racetrack owners in the country who said they cared about this didn't care. They had to know the only way to catch these guys was through undercover and surveillance companies. Without them, you were just giving lip service that you cared," Gural said. "There's no gray area when it comes to honesty. Everyone knew the system was broken, but no one cared about it. There's no way we can tell people in politics that we care if we don't let the USADA take over. The funny thing is that when I would talk to people who oppose the government taking over, the next thing I would ask is if the current system is working, and 100% would say no. I don't understand that. They knew the system wasn't working, and they were happy with it.  "If we don't bring in the USADA now and get behind the (HIA), we should shut down the sport. It would say we really don't care." According to the company website, "5 Stones intelligence is a leading intelligence and investigative company based in Miami, with offices throughout the world. 5Si possesses the world's largest private HUMINT intelligence network and supports intelligence collection and analysis, global investigations, and operations support for Governments and corporations." Servis, who trains recent Saudi Cup winner Maximum Security, who was disqualified from first to 17th in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and Navarro, the seven-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park, are scheduled to be arraigned March 23 on charges of a misbranding conspiracy.  BloodHorse reported March 14 that Servis and Navarro could appear before the New York federal court for arraignment and initial conference either in person or by telephone conference in a concession to travel difficulties because of COVID-19. The indictment charged that Servis had performance-enhancing drugs administered to "virtually all of the racehorses under his care" and that Navarro orchestrated "a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to horses under his control." Navarro is facing two counts of the misbranding charge, each carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Servis was charged with one count and could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty. Among the harness trainers indicted are Rene Allard, who was third in North American earnings last year, Richard Banca, Nick Surick, Chris Oakes, Chris Marino, Rick Dane Jr., and assistant trainer Conor Flynn. Allard, Banca, Oakes and Marino were barred by Gural from racing at Meadowlands prior to the indictments. Banca and Allard are the runaway leaders at the current Yonkers Raceway meet, combining for 367 wins in 2020 before racing was suspended due to COVID-19 after the March 9 card. Gural believes there will be more indictments in the weeks and months to come. "People will (provide information to authorities)," Gural said. "Anyone who used these people who were indicted cannot be sleeping well." By Bob Ehalt Reprinted with permission of bloodhorse.com

SCHENECTADY – As they face federal charges for doping racehorses, five thoroughbred trainers and a harness racing owner will continue to be barred from racing in New York, the state Gaming Commission ruled. At a Wednesday morning hearing, gaming officer Michael Hoblock, who was appearing via video-conferencing, decided that the suspension of state racing licenses for trainers Henry Argueta, Christopher Marino, Christopher Oakes, Nicholas Surick, Michael Tannuzzo and horse owner Scott Mangini, will remain in place. Another six who were also indicted on federal charges for conspiring to mislabel and smuggle performance enhancement drugs into their barns, including famed trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, did not appear. Their hearing with the commission was previously adjourned and will be reconsidered after their criminal cases work their way through the courts. The 12 are among 27 trainers, veterinarians, riders and owners nationwide who had their licenses suspended on March 9 when the indictment was unsealed. At that time, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman alleged they had "designed to secretly and dangerously enhance the racing performance of horses beyond their natural ability, a dishonest practice that places the lives of affected animals at risk.” The only defendant to appear at the hearing was assistant trainer Henry Argueta. He was not accompanied by a lawyer and had some difficulty understanding the proceeding as his English is limited. However, he did understand that his license is temporarily suspended. He is listed in the Servis indictment for misbranding conspiracy and faces up to five years in prison. Servis was allegedly involved in a scheme to obtain an illegally manufactured drug called SGF-1000. The drug is designed to increase a horse's stamina and endurance. According to the indictment, Servis gave the drug to "virtually all" of the horses he trained. The indictment also alleges that the two trainers heavily doped two of their most successful horses, Maximum Security and XY Jet. Maximum Security, trained by Servis, won the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference. On Feb. 29 of this year, the horse won the world's richest race, the $10 million Saudi Cup. XY Jet, trained by Navarro, won more than $3 million in 26 starts before dying of a heart attack on Jan. 8. Navarro allegedly administered 50 injections of a performance-enhancing drug into XY Jet's mouth, according to the indictment. The indictment is the result of a two-year probe, Berman said. “These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money,” Berman said when he unsealed the indictment in March. “And it was the racehorses that paid the price for the defendants’ greed.  The care and respect due to the animals competing, as well as the integrity of racing, are matters of deep concern to the people of this District and to this Office.” If the 12 are convicted, the gaming commission will consider revoking their racing licenses permanently. Alleged doping dozen in New York State Henry A. Argueta, assistant thoroughbred trainer and exercise rider Alexander Chan, veterinarian Rick A. Dane, Jr., harness trainer  Conor J. Flynn, harness groom Scott Mangini, harness owner    Chris W. Marino, harness trainer Jorge I. Navarro, thoroughbred  Christopher W. Oakes, harness trainer  Kristian S. Rhein, veterinarian  Jason Servis, thoroughbred trainer  Nicholas K. Surick, harness trainer   Michael E. Tannuzzo, thoroughbred trainer licensed  The indictment coincides with efforts in Congress to pass the Horseracing Integrity Act, co-sponsored in the House by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam) and led in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), which would hand oversight of administering drugs to racehorses to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the governing body that runs the U.S. Olympic anti-doping efforts. The act would eliminate the current patchwork of state-by-state rules and align the nation's tracks with much of the rest of the world.  New York Racing Association, which manages the Saratoga Race Course as well as Aqueduct Racetrack and Belmont Park, supports the measure. By Wendy Liberatore Reprinted with permission of The Times Union  

Harness racing trainer Richard Banca has become the 28th person identified in the horse doping scandal that yielded indictments against some of the biggest names in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. Banca’s name was not among those listed when indictments were announced Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He was arrested Monday and released after posting a $200,000 personal recognizance bond. That another name has surfaced fuels speculation that the investigation launched by the FBI and the Department of Justice will yield more names, perhaps many more. The court documents regarding Banca include a deposition from FBI agent Bruce Turpin, who links Banca to Louis Grasso and Conor Flynn, who were among the 27 indicted Monday. Like the others, Banca is being charged with “misbranding” drugs. Turpin testified that Banca’s property in Middletown, NY was searched Mar. 9 and that the FBI found a number of illegal substances and handwritten notes with instructions on how to administer those drugs. Turpin lays out a scenario where Flynn, Grasso and Banca worked together to illegally administer drugs to horses and says that Flynn was Banca’s assistant. “I have learned that Grasso has, on multiple occasions, supplied Flynn with adulterated and misbranded performance-enhancing drugs for Flynn to administer–or deliver to others to administer–to racehorses,” Turpin testified. In further testimony, Turpin reports: “Based on my discussions with an agent who has spoken with a confidential source, I have learned that Flynn has stated, in substance and in part, that Flynn administers horses owned, trained, or otherwise under Banca’s control, with PEDs at Banca’s direction. In 2011, Banca was sanctioned by the New York Racing and Wagering Board for Oxymetazoline violations and given a 90-day suspension and a $1,000 fine. Banca, 34, has won 1,695 races, including 42 this year. After never having more than 82 winners in a year, his win total shot up to 174 in 2015 and he won 200 races in 2016. The horses he had entered Monday night at Yonkers were scratched. By Bill Finley Reprinted with permission of The Thoroughbred Daily News

A Victorian harness racing trainer-driver has been disqualified for six years, after admitting to injecting a horse with potassium so stewards wouldn't find out it had been fixed for a race. Scott Dyer has also admitted to acting corruptly by being aware that another trainer had fixed horses by 'drenching' them. Drenching involves putting a tube down a horse's throat to put substances into them that give them an unfair advantage on the track. Dyer pleaded guilty to five breaches of Australian Harness Racing Rules over the incidents in December 2014, at a hearing of the Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in May. It disqualified him from training and driving for seven years and 34 days, but he asked the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review the decision. The breaches came to light when police intercepted calls made by another registered trainer, Larry Eastman, between October and December 2014. The calls revealed that on December 8, after the horse Waterslide had won a race at Charlton and stewards called for a post-race blood sample, Dyer injected the animal with potassium to hide the substances that had been put into it earlier to give it a racing edge. He also drove the horse Sukovia in Horsham on December 15, after discussing with Eastman that another horse, Dynamic Dick, would be stomach tubed. Before another race in Swan Hill on December 2, Dyer was also aware through Eastman that the horse Cashisking would receive the same treatment. Eastman went on to plead guilty to five criminal offences, including using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes and engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event. He was convicted and fined $20,000. In reviewing Dyer's case, VCAT member Reynah Tang decided a disqualification of 10 years and four months would fit the bill. But he discounted the penalty to six years when considering Dyer's guilty plea and the delay in his case coming before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board. He also considered the potential impact of the disqualification of his depression, which a psychiatrist confirmed he had been dealing with since 2013. There was also a lack of evidence that Dyer had benefited financially from the offending and he remained on the Newstart Allowance, Mr Tang said. By Marnie Banger   Australian Associated Press       VIC - VCAT Decision - Scott Dyer 15 November 2019   On 14 November 2019, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) released its decision in relation to an application for review lodged by former licensed person Scott Dyer regarding a decision of the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 22 May 2019. Background On 22 May 2019, Mr Dyer pleaded guilty at a HRV RAD Board hearing to five charges that related to a Victoria Police investigation that lead to criminal charges being issued against licensed trainer Larry Eastman. The HRV RAD Board determined charges regarding Mr Dyer interfering with a post-race blood sample; failing to drive a horse on its merits; possession of a syringe containing the substance potassium on a racecourse; and corrupt or improper conduct in relation to information he had about the prerace stomach-tubing of ‘Cashisking’ on 2 December 2014 and ‘Dynamite Dick’ on 15 December 2014. Mr Dyer was disqualified for a period of 8 years. The HRV RAD Board media release can be found here. VCAT Hearing On 8 October 2019, VCAT Member Tang heard submissions from Allan McMonnies for Mr Dyer and Adrian Anderson for HRV. In the VCAT Decision, dated 14 November 2019, Member Tang set aside the penalty decision of the HRV RAD Board, and in its place substituted a total effective disqualification of six years. Mr Dyer will be disqualified until 25 June 2024. The full VCAT decision can be viewed here. Harness Racing Victoria

Summerside police have confirmed they are investigating at least three complaints relating to strange incidents at the Red Shores Summerside Raceway. Police said Monday they are looking into reports of a theft on May 29, damage being done to tires on a cart on June 9 and a horse sustaining unexplained injuries on June 12. No further information was available yet, but the investigations remain ongoing. Users of the raceway’s stables are concerned about the safety of their horses and property as unexplained vandalism like this has been a recent problem. Some have said they intend to install security cameras for peace of mind. “Without the security cameras, we can’t be 100 per cent sure. Horses can get into trouble themselves, but they don’t need some stranger coming here and unlocking them and then getting hurt as a result,” said Vance Cameron, the track announcer. RELATED: Horses hurt, tires slashed at Red Shores Racetrack in Summerside Reprinted with permission of The Guardian

Harness racing driver Simon Lawson has unfairly copped a two and a half year ban from the JCA for betting on another horse in a race he was driving in. Originally in a reserved decision, Lawson was fined $8000 and given a suspension of 18 months for placing a $50EW Fixed Odds bet on Mr Natural in Race 10 at Alexandra Park on 25th May 2018, the “Book An ATC Bus to The Jewels” Mobile Trot while he drove My Royal Roxy into 5th place in the same race. Details of the Reserved Decision can be read here. That one and a half year ban has now been upgraded to two and a half years. For a young driver whose life revolved around horses and harness racing, the ban will certainly impact his life in a major way. Lawson himself could not believe the length of the term he was disqualified for. "I am in shock" he told Harnesslink today. "It has cost me my job and it is going to take me years to pay the fine. "I am not saying I did not do anything wrong, because I did make a mistake. "But I think the penalty is harsh and far outweighs the breach of rules," he said. Earlier in the year Lawson was cleared of race fixing in the race he profited from after police interviewed some of the drivers in the race and found there was no race fixing involved. Betting patterns that were analysed on the race in question also confirmed no illegal activity. The two and a half year ban is extremely excessive. It is our belief the RIU appealed the original decision to have the term extended just to make Simon Lawson a scapegoat. Lawson has now been unfairly burdened with a penalty so far out of context with the rule breach it seems like a joke. Granted the industry needs to protect its integrity but this over the top suspension in our eyes instead makes the industry a laughing stock and instead further damages the industry. Many owners trainers and drivers we talked too are growing more and more disheartened at the decisions coming from this integrity unit. Something has got to be done and we think the heads at the RIU need to go as they are continuing to hurt all aspects of harness racing. Harnesslink Media

Melbourne Cup-winning horse trainer Darren Weir and two other men have been arrested in police raids at Weir's Victorian properties. Victoria Police said the raids were part of a Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit investigation into alleged corruption in racing. In a statement, police said the men were arrested for questioning as part of an investigation into suspected offences including obtaining financial advantage by deception, engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome, use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes, attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception. A 26-year-old man and a 38-year-old man were also arrested. Weir, 48, is widely regarded as Australia's leading horse trainer and trained the 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning horse Prince of Penzance, which jockey Michelle Payne rode to victory. At the end of last year, harness racing in New Zealand was rocked by allegations of race-fixing. It's believed that a number of high profile figures in harness racing were the target of raids around the country. Most of those accused have been granted name suppression and are due to appear in court this year. In a statement, Racing Victoria's general manager of integrity, Jamie Stier, said the police raids were linked to an investigation by the racing body. "Racing Victoria's Integrity Services team has been conducting an investigation into the activities of licensed persons in the Warrnambool and Ballarat areas," he said. "During the course of our investigation we sought the support of Victoria Police's Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit." Mr Stier said members of Racing Victoria's integrity team joined police on the raids at the properties. "Racing Victoria is committed to maintaining the highest integrity standards in our sport and, where appropriate, we will continue to work with Victoria Police on those investigations." Police said a firearm and "what is believed to be a conducted energy device" were also seized. Weir has a high-tech training facility at Miners Rest and a beach stable in Warrnambool. Police searched a truck at the trainer's Miners Rest property this morning, going through its cab and the vehicle's exterior. Victoria's Racing Minister, Martin Pakula, said he was aware of the police investigation and did not want to say anything to prejudice its outcome. "I would simply say as a racing fan and as the Racing Minister, integrity in our sport is incredibly important and any allegation of a breach of the rules of racing is extremely disappointing," he said. "It is important to note that this is another demonstration that our racing integrity unit within Racing Victoria will pursue any matter without fear or favour, and that is clearly what they have done." Reprinted with permission of Radio New Zealand

STATE COLLEGE — This usually quiet town finds itself still shaking from Thursday’s late-night tragedy in which a gunman killed four people, including himself. “Relatively speaking,” State College Police Chief John Gardner said at a press conference Friday, “State College is one of the safest places in America.” That classification was challenged at 10:14 p.m. Thursday when 21-year-old Jordan Witmer of Benner Township went on a shooting spree at P.J. Harrigan’s Bar & Grill, located at 1450 S. Atherton Street. Harrigan’s is attached to the Ramada Hotel. Pronounced dead Thursday night were Dean Beachy, 61, George McCormick, 83, and Witmer. Beachy’s son, 19-year-old Steven Beachy, died Friday. Nicole Abrino, 21, remains in critical condition after being transferred from Mount Nittany Medical Center to a Pittsburgh hospital. Gardner said police are trying to determine a motive and “make sense of what occurred.” Officers were first dispatched to Harrigan’s after a report of shots fired. Gardner said Witmer had arrived at the bar about 8:30 p.m. and was there with Abrino. Police are still trying to determine the exact relationship between Witmer and Abrino. According to police, at one point during the night, Witmer got up from his bar seat, walked to where the Beachys were seated and began shooting. Dean Beachy, a visiting auctioneer from Millersburg, Ohio, suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene. Steven Beachy suffered a torso wound and was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center. He was transferred to UPMC Altoona, where he was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. Friday, Centre County Deputy Coroner Debra Smeal told the Millersburg (Ohio) Daily Record. Dean Beachy was listed as an auctioneer at a standard-bred horse auction at Penns Valley Livestock in Centre Hall, the Record reported. Abrino suffered a chest wound. According to police, after the shooting, Witmer fled and crashed his car at the intersection of Waupelani Drive and Tussey Lane at about 10:46 p.m. Officers found Witmer’s vehicle unoccupied, and at 11:09 p.m., State College police were dispatched to 748 Tussey Lane — McCormick’s home — for a reported burglary in progress with shots fired. Gardner said Witmer entered the McCormick residence by shooting a sliding glass door and then kicking his way in. Officers entered at approximately 11:14 p.m. and found McCormick deceased with a gunshot wound to his head. Witmer was found deceased in the living room from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. McCormick’s wife, Joann, 80, was unharmed. She had locked herself in the bedroom and called 911. As questions persisted Friday about the shooter and his motive, Gardner reminded, “What I don’t want to have lost here … four people lost their lives.” Gardner said an investigation revealed that there was no relationship between Witmer and the McCormicks, and it is believed he chose the home at random after crashing his vehicle. After describing the incident, Gardner took time to address some issues regarding the timeliness of certain warnings. Gardner said he wanted “to stress more than anything” that the first thing officers did after collecting relevant information was to send that information to other law enforcement bodies, including Pennsylvania State Police. This information included a description of the suspect. Gardner noted that by the time he arrived on scene at 11:15 p.m., a lot of the information had already been dispersed through local television and social media. “If there’s one thing I think we, myself in particular as the police chief here, could have done better is to release information sooner that the threat had been eliminated,” he said. “We knew there was no more threat to the public,” Gardner said, adding that “in hindsight” he wishes the information had been released sooner so the public hadn’t remained in a “heightened state.” On social media in particular, several Penn State students expressed concern over the fact that no university alert was sent out. Gardner said that during the incident there were “no immediate threats to Penn State or its students,”in part due to the fact that the shooting took place miles off campus. Gardner said the shooting was “a State College incident, not a university incident,” which contributed to the university’s decision not to send out an alert. Penn State issued a statement Friday, saying it was “deeply saddened by the senseless acts of violence that have occurred and our thoughts are with the victims and their families” and adding that it was in touch with State College police Thursday night and was “monitoring the rapidly unfolding off-campus incident.” “The decision to send an action alert is made on a case-by-case basis for each situation, and is based on information available to Penn State Police at the time of the event,” the statement read. “We always review our responses to these incidents and will adjust our processes as needed.” The police department is in the process of investigating more on Witmer’s background, Gardner said. A 2015 Bellefonte High School graduate, Witmer was in the military, but it is unclear whether he was active duty or had just gotten out. Gardner said Witmer had a legal permit to carry a gun. Gardner said the case isn’t “open and closed” because Witmer took his own life, adding that the department will work as long as possible to determine exactly what happened. Gardner said an investigation into whether or not there were drugs or alcohol in Witmer’s system is being conducted. Gardner said mass shootings are “not very common” in the area. A sign on the door at Harrigan’s said the bar would be closed through the weekend and expressed condolences to the victims. Mirror copy editor Sarah Vasile can be reached at 949-7029. Reprinted with permission of The Altoona Mirror ............................................................................... From the USTA Columbus, OH — Dean W. Beachy 62, of Millersburg, OH, died Thursday, January 24, 2019, in State College, Pa. a victim of a random shooting. His son Steven also died as a result of the shooting. Born January 16, 1957, he was a son of the late Albert J. and Emma Jean (Beachy) Beachy. Dean was a renowned harness racing auctioneer and a member of Walnut Creek Mennonite Church. He is survived by his wife, the former Linda Meader, whom he married September 21, 1991. Also surviving are his children Robert Joseph Beachy, Benjamin Dean Beachy, David Albert Beachy, (Steven Lee Beachy, also a victim of the shooting) all from Walnut Creek, 2 sisters Wilma Mae (Daniel) Yoder of Medina, N.Y., Diane Sue Beachy of Walnut Creek and a sister-in-law Esther Beachy of Winesburg. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Dale Lee Beachy. Funeral services will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 11:00 AM at the Mt. Hope Event Center in Mt. Hope with Pastor Don Hamsher officiating. A private burial will be held prior to services. Friends may call at the event center Sunday from 5 to 8 PM and Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 PM. Smith-Varns Funeral Home in Sugarcreek is handling the arrangements. To share a memory, please visit the funeral home’s web site. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Walnut Creek Mennonite Missions Program (330-852-2560).  Steven Lee Beachy, 19, dies Steven Lee Beachy 19, Millersburg, OH, died Friday, January 25, 2019, in Altoona, Pa., a victim of a random shooting in State College, Pa on Thursday. His father, Dean W. Beachy, also died as a result of the shooting. Born June 22, 1999, in Canton he was a son Linda Mary Beachy and the late Dean W. Beachy. Steven was a horseman and a member of Walnut Creek Mennonite Church. In addition to his mother he is survived by 3 brothers Robert Joseph Beachy, Benjamin Dean Beachy and David Albert Beachy, all of Walnut Creek, a grandfather Bud Meader of Rochester, New Hampshire and aunts and uncles Diane Beachy, Esther Beachy, Daniel and Wilma Yoder, Dana and Lorraine Rines and Robert and Polly Meader.  Funeral services will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 11:00 AM at the Mt. Hope Event Center in Mt. Hope with Pastor Don Hamsher officiating. A private burial will be held prior to services. Friends may call at the event center Sunday from 5 to 8 PM and Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 PM. Smith-Varns Funeral Home in Sugarcreek is handling the arrangements. To share a memory, please visit the funeral home’s web site. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Walnut Creek Mennonite Missions Program. (330-852-2560).  The USTA Communications Department  

Betting anomalies have been identified and police say more arrests are possible as the probe into alleged corruption in New Zealand harness racing widens to the Auckland region. Thirteen harness racing figures have so far appeared in court after being caught up in the 18-month Operation Inca race-fixing investigation by the National Organised Crime Group. Many of the racing identities cannot be named for legal reasons and have denied match-fixing and other charges. They are awaiting a High Court hearing in February for name suppression to be argued. The charges came after raids on multiple stables and properties in Canterbury, Invercargill and Manawatu in September. Today, police revealed investigators from the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) and detectives from the National Organised Crime Group have this week conducted further enquiries in the Auckland region. "A number of people have been interviewed as part of this week's enquiries, and betting anomalies have been identified in at least one race in May 2018," a police statement said. "The RIU is considering charges relating to the breach of rules around driver betting in relation to these anomalies. "Further arrests and charges by police are also possible." Christchurch District Court heard on Wednesday that a male driver in his 50s has been charged with conspiring with another person to manipulate a race result earlier this year by "administering a substance" to a horse before the race "in order to gain a pecuniary advantage, namely the winning stakes". Defence lawyer Phil Shamy said the man denied the charge and would elect trial by jury. Judge Raoul Neave granted him interim name suppression which will be reviewed when he comes back to court – along with others charged over Operation Inca – on March 25 next year. North Canterbury trainer Andrew Douglas Stuart, 42, who has previously entered not guilty pleas to three race-fixing allegations, faces a fourth fixing charge. It's alleged that with another man he "manipulated the overall result" of a race earlier this year by deception and without claim of right. A 40-year-old Canterbury man who denies three race-fixing charges and who is yet to enter pleas on two unrelated drugs charges had another drugs charge laid this week. Graham Henry Beirne, a 71-year-old Christchurch man, previously denied two race fixing charges, and faces a third charge. Defence counsel Richard Raymond QC asked for no plea to be entered on the new charge, and Judge Neave remanded him until March 25. Three other men – aged 50, 35 and 26 – deny race-fixing allegations, as does Palmerston North man Brent Stephen Wall, 47, and 44-year-old Rolleston-based horse trainer Nigel Raymond McGrath. Others face drugs charges that their lawyers say is unconnected to the horse racing investigation, including Elie Sawma, a 42-year-old Christchurch hairdresser charged with supplying the Class B controlled drug MDMA, possession of MDMA, and offering to supply the Class A drug cocaine. Another accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is yet to enter pleas. Some of the accused were remanded by Judge Raoul Neave to a Crown case review hearing on March 25 next year, while others will be back in court on January 29. By: Kurt Bayer NZ Herald reporter based in Christchurch   Reprinted with permission of The New Zealand Herald

Thirteen more charges have been laid in relation to a probe into harness racing race-fixing. Police say 12 of the charges have been laid against current defendants. One charge has been laid against another person in the industry. The investigation, dubbed Operation Inca, was made public in September when explosive allegations around race fixing and drugs were revealed The defendants will next appear in the Christchurch District Court in early December. Courtesy of Newstalk ZB

Harness Racing participants Dayl March and Leonard Cain have had their licences reinstated after charges of race fixing against them were dropped last week.  The Brisbane Magistrates' Court dismissed the charges, citing a lack of evidence in both cases.  It is believed the Magistrate indicated in March’s case that there was insufficient evidence to proceed and the charges were subsequently withdrawn, The Courier Mail reported last week.  In the case of Cain, it is understood the prosecution asked for more time to produce witnesses, but the submission was rejected and the case dismissed. QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett said both March and Cain had applied to have their racing licences reinstated.  “Mr Cain’s suspension has been lifted effective immediately and he is able to resume under his licence which remains current," Commissioner Barnett said.  “The licence of Mr March expired through the suspension period and he will be issued a renewal application directly. The suspension has been lifted however no current licence is in place at this stage. “QRIC stewards have yet to examine the circumstances of each case to determine whether any further action should be taken.” While March and Cain challenged their charges, former driver Barton Cockburn was fined $5,000 in October last year after pleading guilty to three charges relating to race fixing.  Cockburn was warned off all race tracks for life following his conviction. By Nick Hluchaniuk Reprinted with permission of The Punters

Race-fixing cases against harness racing participants Dayl March and Leonard Cain were dismissed in Brisbane Magistrates’ Court this week, leaving the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and the Racing Crime Squad red-faced. Both decisions cited a lack of evidence as the reason for the dismissals. The cases of March and Cain were the first match-fixing charges to be contested in court relating to QRIC’s harness racing investigations, which were conducted by the Racing Crime Squad. Last October, Barton Cockburn pleaded guilty to three charges of match fixing, pertaining to races in November 2016 and was fined $5000. Soon after, Michael Grant also pleaded guilty to different charges relating to the same inquiry. At the time, Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said Cockburn’s conviction “should put an end to industry speculation about whether the Commission would be able to gather sufficient evidence to obtain convictions”. “I hope the fact that two of the three people we’ve charged so far have now pleaded guilty will be a reflection of the evidence that was gathered in these matters,” Barnett said at the time. However, Cain and March chose to defend the charges and their cases were thrown out of court on Wednesday and Thursday. It is understood in the case of trainer-driver March, the Magistrate indicated there was insufficient evidence to proceed and the charges were subsequently withdrawn. Harness driver Leonard Cain had his race-fixing case dismissed in the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court.  In the case of Cain, a harness driver, it is understood the prosecution asked for more time to produce witnesses, but the submission was rejected and the case dismissed. Both QRIC and the Queensland Police Service declined to comment on the March and Cain dismissals on Friday. March has been sidelined and unable to compete since having his license suspended in April last year. Initially he did not seek a stay of proceedings because he had hoped the matter would be resolved quickly. Later, when it became apparent the case would drag on, he was denied the stay. Originally published as Race-fixing cases thrown out of court   By Nathan Exelby   Reprinted with permission of news.com.au    

A man has been charged with cheating at gambling offences as part of an ongoing investigation into the fixing of harness races in NSW. Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad established Strike Force Antree to investigate reports of race fixing in the harness racing industry in NSW. Following extensive investigations, strike force detectives arrested a 23-year-old man at Dubbo just after 9am today (Thursday 1 March 2018). He was taken to Dubbo Police Station and charged with two counts of engage in conduct that corrupts betting outcome and use corrupt information to bet on event. Police will allege in court that the man administered two horses with banned performance-enhancing substances ahead of a harness race meet at Parkes on Sunday 6 August 2017. He was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Dubbo Local Court on Tuesday 24 April 2018. Shortly after the arrest, strike force detectives, assisted by officers from Orana Mid Western Police District and Western Region Enforcement Squad, executed a search warrant at a home on Roper Street, Dubbo. Detectives seized documentation, including sports betting account information; and performance-enhancing substances. Investigations under Strike Force Antree are continuing. Police are urging anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Antree investigators to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/ Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our social media pages.

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