06/04/2006 11:00PM

New York refiles case regarding jockey weights


New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has filed a new indictment against two former employees of the New York Racing Association for allegedly allowing riders to falsify their riding weights.

The indictment, which restates charges against NYRA's former clerk of scales Braulio Baeza and former assistant clerk of scales Mario Sclafani, replaces an indictment that was released last September. Since the indictment was made public, a member of the grand jury impaneled to hear the case attacked the charges as "political grandstanding" in a letter sent to the media and public officials.

Paul Larabee, a spokesman for Spitzer, said Monday that the case was put in front of another grand jury to avoid any "issues" created by the juror's public objections. The juror was admonished by a state judge for speaking out in violation of an oath of silence.

"Prosecutors have the option to supersede an indictment with a new indictment, whether there's new evidence or circumstances have changed," Larabee said. "That's clearly the case here."

Baeza and Sclafani both pleaded not guilty earlier this year on 152 counts of tampering with a sports contest and falsification of business records. Five jockeys were named in the indictment but not charged. Racing officials have suggested that the case may be a result of a misunderstanding over the weigh-in and weigh-out procedures at racetracks, but prosecutors have said that the charges have merit and that investigators collected videotape evidence of the falsifications.

Attorneys for Baeza and Sclafani did not return phone calls Monday.

Spitzer is expected to run for New York governor in an election later this year. The refiled indictment will push back the adjudication of the case until at least November, when the election will be over.

Larabee called any suggestion that the indictment was refiled as a way to avoid publicity over the case "absolutely false."

"We are prepared to go to trial," Larabee said.