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More bets called into question
NEW YORK - Glen DaSilva, one of three people linked to the Breeders' Cup pick six betting scandal, was already under investigation for cashing more than $100,000 in suspicious pick four and pick six bets with Catskill Off-Track Betting Corporation in early October, officials involved in the investigation said Thursday.
DaSilva won $1,851.20 on a pick four bet Oct. 3 at Balmoral Park, a harness track in Illinois, and $115,408 on a pick six Oct. 5 at Belmont Park, the officials said.
Investigators have targeted DaSilva along with Derrick Davis, a Maryland computer technician, and Chris Harn, a former Autotote employee, in the Breeders' Cup pick six case. The three - each 29 years old - attended Drexel University in Philadelphia and were fraternity brothers at Tau Kappa Epsilon, a fraternity popular with computer science, business, and engineering students, according to school records. None have been charged.
Davis placed the Breeders' Cup pick six ticket - the only winning bet, worth $3.1 million - on Oct. 26 through Catskill's touch-tone telephone wagering system. Harn was fired on Oct. 31 from his job as a software engineer at Autotote, the company that processes bets for Catskill, after an internal investigation by Autotote. Harn was based at Autotote's Newark, Del., headquarters.
According to officials, DaSilva opened an account at Catskill shortly before placing the pick four bet at Balmoral. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that mutuel managers at Catskill became suspicious because the wagers used only one horse in each of the first few races and every horse in the final two legs of the sequences, an unusual structure that is identical to the Breeders' Cup ticket.
DaSilva had an extraordinary run of luck, officials said. He placed only three bets through his Catskill account, and two were winners on bets that are extremely difficult to hit.
"It did spark an investigation," said one of the officials. "But it didn't bring the sledgehammer."
The bets are being analyzed by investigators at the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, which launched an investigation of the Breeders' Cup pick six wager on Oct. 27.
Don Groth, the chairman of Catskill OTB, declined to comment Thursday except to say that Catskill was cooperating with the state regulators and the police. On Tuesday, Groth said he turned over information about DaSilva to investigators on Oct. 28, a day after the New York racing board launched its investigation.
DaSilva, who has a residence listed in Manhattan, has not returned e-mail messages requesting comment, and a phone number listed in his name was not in service Thursday. A person answering a reporter's call to DaSilva's cell phone abruptly hung up.
Lawyers for Harn and Davis declined to comment on Thursday. Earlier, they said their clients would be cleared of wrongdoing.
Officials from the New York racing board declined to comment.
One official involved in the investigation said that investigators were concerned about leaks to the news media regarding the names of the suspects. The official said that DaSilva learned he was a target of the investigation by reading articles that identified Harn and Davis.
"This is impeding the investigation," the official said. "He got an attorney before any of us had a chance to talk to him. Now he won't talk. That's not good."
DaSilva's winning bets and his links to Harn and Davis are raising concerns that more than just the three bets currently under investigation might have been tampered with.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that an insider such as Harn was able to alter pick four or pick six bets after several races in the sequences were run. Lorne Weil, the chairman of Autotote's parent company, without naming Harn at the time, said shortly after Harn was fired last week that he "had the password and capability to do what he did."
The ability of an insider to alter tickets has raised questions about the security of Autotote's computer betting system, which is linked to hundreds of wagering outlets across the country. A spokesman for Autotote declined to answer questions Thursday, citing the ongoing investigation.
According to officials, investigators have seized backup data tapes from Catskill that recorded transactions on Oct. 3, Oct. 5, and Oct. 26. It is unclear whether the Catskill tapes could show a technician's movements through the tote system, the officials said.
DaSilva spent $784 on his Belmont pick six ticket, betting at a $16 denomination. Each of the eight $2 winning tickets paid $13,070. DaSilva also had 96 consolation tickets, worth $113 each, running the total payoff to $115,408.
The pick six pool that day was $1,259,009, in part because of a three-day carryover of $389,707. Carryovers routinely attract more money than first-day pick six pools because of the potential for a large payout.
DaSilva cashed one $2 ticket on the pick four at Balmoral, using single horses in the first two legs and every horse in the final two legs. Officials at Balmoral did not return phone calls Thursday.
The Balmoral pick four introduces a new wrinkle to the investigation, because it would be the first evidence that bets other than the pick six may be at risk.
Pick six and pick four wagers are among the multirace wagers sometimes referred to as scan bets. In these bets, computers at the pari-mutuel hub - where the bets are commingled - send out a signal to computers at wagering outlets across the country to scan their systems for live wagers after several races in the betting sequence have been run.
The scan signal tells the remote site computers to transmit only the tickets that are considered "live," or those that have the winners of the completed races, to the national hub. The bets are not transmitted earlier to minimize traffic on the network.
Investigators said they believe that a person could alter the tickets before the scan signal is sent out if the person had access to the tote system.
The scan request for a pick six is transmitted after the fifth race in the sequence. Investigators said the window of opportunity to alter the bet exists between the fourth and fifth races because the scan request is sent out immediately after the fifth race is declared official. The scan request for a pick four bet is sent out after three legs are run.