12/11/2014 2:19PM

Man pleads guilty to bribing college athletes, jockey


A Detroit man accused of bribing college athletes and a jockey who rode briefly in the United States pleaded guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to fix races, in a case that has touched on the careers of several riders.

Ghazi Manni, 57, admitted in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Tuesday that he paid bribes to players at the University of Toledo to shave points in basketball and football games from 2004-06. He also admitted to paying bribes to a jockey, Ricardo Valdes, to hold horses in four races at Tampa Bay Downs and Delaware Park during those same years. Valdes left the United States in 2006, several years before the indictment was released, and his whereabouts are unknown, according to officials.

Although the indictment against Manni and others associated with the scheme was not unsealed until 2009, an investigation into some of the allegations in the indictment had been launched years earlier by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, a private investigative agency owned by tracks. As a result of the TRPB probe, Tampa Bay Downs banned seven jockeys, including Valdes, in late 2006, under the suspicion that the jockeys had held horses in races at Great Lakes Downs in Michigan.

Other than Valdes, none of the jockeys was ever charged by authorities, though some tracks, including Arlington Park, temporarily barred several of the jockeys as a result of the Tampa Bay Downs bans. Over the years, most of the affected riders either left racing or received licenses to ride in other jurisdictions, although one jurisdiction, Kentucky, has declined to approve a racing application from Terry Houghton, one of the jockeys banned at Tampa Bay Downs, even though he has filed license applications.

Marc Guilfoil, the deputy director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said Thursday that the KHRC was scheduled to hold a licensing review hearing for Houghton in January. However, with the case involving Manni now closed, Houghton’s license likely will be reconsidered for approval this year, following discussions with the U.S. attorney’s office that brought the case, Guilfoil said.

In the case of Manni, seven former college players have pleaded guilty, along with Manni’s partner, Mitchell Karam. None has been sentenced.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonder who TD will use to sue TBD? Lawyers should be lining up to represent him
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Another incidence of corruption in racing..you just have to watch races on a hd big tv to see some of the atrocious rides .especially if you have dvd recording and can go back and watch it in slow motion.so the 7 jockeys tampa refused to license who are they.why does this industry continue to protect crooks by not naming them.they just allowed them to go ride elsewhere you would think a catholic priest ran racing. the seven former college players have admitted their guilt and have been kicked out of the sport.the jockeys well one of them has disappeared and the others have relocated.soon the missing one will show up and be given a license somewhere and for the others its business as usual.
Mel More than 1 year ago
I hope you don't bet on these crooked things. You like th guy who sees a fixed race every time HIS horse loses. I love when someone tells me the jock stiffed the horse in a race with a $500,000 or $1 Million purse
Walter More than 1 year ago
I really wonder why all the secrecy about this story? This is not the NSA or CIA doing business. There must have been something really ugly going on and if the facts came out, it would be a serious detriment to Tam and all others involved.
Ray Brennan More than 1 year ago
houghton has won 5200 races plenty of money. what happen to innocent until proven guilty. berube lets jane cerbili back in this year after she was got dopping a horse last year at tampa.and we all know why since shes real chummy with margo flynn. check out the results from tampa today. what a crock
Ray Brennan More than 1 year ago
putting T.D. HOUGHTON in the tampa scandel was a wrong doing. not one ounce of evidece was ever presented. here a guy who has won 5200 races .riding titles everywhere including tampa. in those days he was winning shit loads of racing and plenty of money. but peter berube lets jane cebili back at tampa after she was suspended last year on a doping charge. thats because she is living with margo flynn longtime employee at tampa bay.peter berube dosent know the meaning of innocent until proven guilty.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
"College Athletes" taking bribes?
Allen Payne More than 1 year ago
NAMES OF THE 7 players who have pled "GUILTY" ? Ah , thought so ......
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
nick More than 1 year ago
Those guys from Detroit fixed races for years at TBD. There big day was on Tuesday's when most all other tracks around the country were dark except TBD. On Tuesdays the exotic pots were big and the leading rider at the time was Detroit's own Joe Judise. Judie helped fix a lot of races for them and the TBD stewards looked the other way. I should know, Judise eased a heavy favorite of mine and said she was sore. But the vet and everyone said she was not. The stewards answer to me when I complained, Joe probably just had a fight with his girlfriend.
Ken Wiener More than 1 year ago
Fascinating letter Nick. Thanks.
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
Joe JUDICE!!!!
M More than 1 year ago
stewards have to be on the lookout.. having track officials that are past jockeys can help see the subtle signs. some of the lower tier ones don't make much money and the temptation could be there.
nick More than 1 year ago
In the time period that the TBD fix was going on one of the stewards was a ex jock.
John Murray More than 1 year ago
where is the proof?, the facts like Bruce Epstein points out below. One of the stewards was an ex jock, man up!
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
I think we will never know, why the jocks at Tampa got KO'd. Where are the facts, where is the data???
Ann More than 1 year ago
They thought at least one of them was guilty, so they just banned the lot so that they would know that they had thrown out the bad apple. The fact that innocent riders might have their careers damaged or ruined was only 'collateral damage.' Typical management-think.