Updated on 09/17/2011 10:07AM

Harn gets one year for pick six fix


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Citing Chris Harn's cooperation with federal investigators, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced Harn, the mastermind of last year's Breeders' Cup pick six scam, to one year in prison on Thursday while giving Harn's co-conspirators sentences of two and slightly more than three years.

Harn, 29, must report to prison on May 1, Judge Charles L. Brieant ordered. So must Derrick Davis, 29, who was sentenced to 37 months, and Glen DaSilva, 29, who was sentenced to two years. Davis and DaSilva will probably receive sentence reductions of one year because of their participation in federal drug-rehabilitation programs.

At the discretion of the federal Bureau of Prisons, all three will likely serve in minimum-security facilities near family members.

The sentencing brought to a close the criminal proceedings in a scandal that rocked the Thoroughbred racing industry and exposed security gaps in the electronic network that processes the sport's bets.

It also cleared the way for the redistribution of the Breeders' Cup pick six pool - with interest - to holders of the 78 tickets that had five winners. Those bettors have already received $4,606.20 for each $2 consolation ticket and will now receive another $39,331.40, plus $249.48 in interest, the Breeders' Cup announced Thursday. Money from the Breeders' Cup pick six pool has been held in an interest-bearing account since the investigation into the pick six was launched the day after the Breeders' Cup, which was held Oct. 26 at Arlington Park outside of Chicago.

Harn, Davis, and DaSilva, who were fraternity brothers at Drexel University in the 1990's, were an unlikely trio to pull off the sport's most lucrative rigged-ticket scheme, which resulted in a $3.1 million payout on the Breeders' Cup pick six. Harn, a bright, soft-spoken computer progammer, gave Davis and DaSilva instructions to help him pull off several scams, which relied on Harn's access to the electronic wagering network as a senior technician at Autotote, the country's largest bet processor.

Davis and DaSilva were self-employed computer consultants whose roles included opening telephone-betting accounts at Catskill OTB in New York and cashing counterfeits of unredeemed winning tickets at tracks on the Eastern seaboard. Proceeds were split equally between Harn and Davis or DaSilva, depending on who opened the account or cashed the fake tickets, prosecutors said.

Investigators were tipped off because the winning Breeders' Cup pick six ticket manipulated by Harn used a single horse in the first four races and every horse in the final two races, a highly unusual structure. Also, the bet was placed in a $12 denomination. Harn was able to enter the electronic betting network and change the ticket after the first four races in the sequence had been run to reflect the winners.

Before being sentenced, all three defendants apologized for their actions before Judge Brieant. "I realize that forgiveness is earned, not granted, and I wish to repay my debt to society with actions, not words," Harn told the judge. Harn also thanked the racing industry "for cleaning up this mess that I have created."

Family members and friends of the three defendants packed the courtroom on a cold, gray morning to hear the proceedings. Parents of the three conspirators either broke down in tears or silently stared as the judge issued the sentences, first to DaSilva, then to Davis, and finally to Harn.

The three declined to comment afterward, although their lawyers said the sentences were within their expectations. Despite being the mastermind, Harn received a lighter sentence than he might have otherwise because his cooperation was critical to the government's case, Judge Brieant said.

"Except for the improbability of the bet," Brieant said to prosecuting attorneys, "I don't see how" the government would have made its case without Harn's cooperation. Stan Okula, the prosecuting attorney for the U.S. Southern District of New York, disputed that the government could not have built a case, but he also said that Harn's cooperation "assisted us a great deal."

Two weeks after the Breeders' Cup - and to the surprise of the attorneys representing his co-conspirators - Harn cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for a more lenient sentence. He admitted to manipulating two pick six bets and one pick four bet placed by Davis and DaSilva through telephone-betting accounts at Catskill OTB in New York. He also admitted to printing out counterfeits of unredeemed bets that were cashed by Davis and DaSilva, netting the three a total of $100,000. The ticket-cashing scheme was not known to prosecutors until Harn provided the details.

Harn's one-year sentence - technically one year and a day, so that Harn could qualify for a 54-day reduction applied to all federal sentences longer than one year - sent murmurs rippling through the courtroom. DaSilva, who had already been sentenced to two years, shook his head in disbelief and looked to friends seated behind him.

"Everyone was surprised, and they are still surprised," said one legal official in close contact with prosecutors. "Everyone thought Harn was going to get at least four years. There were a lot of jaws dropping."

Brieant said that sentencing for Davis and DaSilva was complicated by the fact that both tested positive for cocaine when they surrendered in November. Both admitted to recreational use of the drug. Brieant allowed Davis and DaSilva to be considered for a drug-rehabilitation program while in prison, which, if completed successfully, will remove one year from their sentences.

Before sentencing, lawyers for each of the three made arguments that their clients deserved to be sentenced at the low end of the federal guidelines, which set strict rules.

Steve Allen, the attorney for Davis, asked the court to consider a "mitigating role adjustment" that would reduce Davis's sentence, citing Davis's unfamiliarity with the potential size of the Breeders' Cup pick six payoff and what he called a small role in cashing the counterfeit tickets. The judge rejected the arguments, which drew objections from prosecutors.

Harn's lawyer, Daniel Conti, called the one-year sentence for Harn "fair."

"Everyone was predicting higher," Conti said, "but you have to take the time to look at cases where someone provides cooperation."

DaSilva's lawyer, Ed Hayes, argued that his client had been pressured to participate in Harn's schemes and that DaSilva's recent break-up with his fiancee and his cocaine use had clouded his judgment.

Reaction in the racing industry was muted. Officials with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said they would not comment. The NTRA, which merged with Breeders' Cup in 2001, has hired a consulting firm headed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to review racing's betting procedures.

D.G. Van Clief, the president of Breeders' Cup, said that he was concerned only with redistributing the pick six pool to consolation ticketholders. "Protecting our customers and ensuring that the rightful winners received payment has been our top priority from the start," Van Clief said.

Officials for Autotote did not return phone calls. During sentencing, Judge Brieant, citing a letter the company's lawyers sent to the court urging that Harn's "betrayal" be taken into account, said that the company could consider civil action against Harn.