03/14/2003 12:00AM

Sentencing Thursday for Pick Six trio


NEW YORK - The day of reckoning for the Pick Six Trio arrives on Thursday in a White Plains, N.Y., courtroom.

That's when Chris Harn, Derrick Davis, and Glen DaSilva - the three former Drexel University fraternity brothers who have entered guilty pleas to felony conspiracy and money-laundering charges related to last year's Breeders' Cup pick six case - will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Charles L. Bryant, bringing to a close the criminal phase of one of the biggest betting scandals in Thoroughbred racing. All three are likely facing at least two years in prison.

Harn, a former Autotote senior programmer and admitted ringleader of the pick six scam and another scheme to cash unredeemed mutuel tickets, will likely be sentenced to four to six years, legal officials said, or perhaps less, because of his cooperation in the investigation. DaSilva and Davis will likely serve no more than two to three years. All three are headed for federal prison camps, minimum-security installations with no fences, legal officials said.

Harn and Davis have admitted to conspiracy in rigging the winning Breeders' Cup pick six ticket last Oct. 26. If they had gotten away with the scheme, the two would have split a $3.1 million payday. DaSilva has admitted participating with Harn in earlier schemes to fix a winning pick six ticket at Belmont Park and a pick four ticket at Balmoral Park. The Belmont pick six paid $107,608, and the Balmoral pick four paid $1,757.

According to prosecutors, Harn manipulated the tickets by accessing the computer system used by Catskill OTB in New York and changing bets placed in accounts opened by Davis and DaSilva.

Davis and DaSilva have also admitted cashing fakes of unredeemed mutuel tickets that Harn counterfeited over a 12-month period while working at Autotote. That scheme netted the three approximately $110,000, prosecutors said.

Harn is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years, but the sentence is expected to be significantly shorter because he was the first of the three suspects to make a deal with prosecutors. Harn admitted guilt and cooperated with the investigation, implicating DaSilva and Davis.

"The discount for cooperation is very, very substantial," said James Cohen, a professor of law at Fordham University who is a former federal prosecutor. "That's what makes it such a prized commodity and why guys agree to cooperate."

Government lawyers have recommended a 21- to 27-month sentence for DaSilva. Davis is facing a 31- to 37-month sentence because he participated in the Breeders' Cup scheme, which would have netted far more money than the other scams.

Parole is not available for federal crimes, but a 15 percent reduction - or 54 days each year - of the sentence is automatically applied to any federal penalty, so the judge's decision will be reduced by that amount, legal experts said.

Davis and DaSilva will be sentenced before Harn, federal officials said, because it is standard practice in federal conspiracy for the person who cooperates to be sentenced last. Before the sentences are announced, each of the three will be allowed to make final statements to the court, and their lawyers will be allowed to argue for lenient treatment.

After sentencing, each of the three will file a request with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to serve at specific prison camps, probably facilities close to family members. These requests typically are granted, legal officials said.

According to one person, Davis has already indicated that he would like to be near Baltimore, where he has been staying with his family. The three prison camps he is considering, the person said, are Cumberland in Maryland, Petersburg in Virginia, and Allenwood in Pennsylvania.

Harn is likely to request a facility near his father's home in Lexington, Ky., where he has been staying, legal officials said, or in Florida. Before his guilty plea last December, Harn lived in Delaware with his Peruvian wife, Mercedes, and his 2-year-old daughter, Camille. Mercedes and Camille have since returned to Peru, according to Harn's lawyer, Dan Conti.

"It's been tight for the family," Conti said. "They sold the house in Delaware, and [Mercedes and Camille] are living with her family in Peru. They're still a family, and they hope to be reunited soon."

Ed Hayes, the attorney for DaSilva, said that DaSilva will likely request that he serve in Florida to be close to his family. Hayes said that DaSilva has spent most of his time since his guilty plea in Manhattan, where he has lived since leaving Drexel in 1997.

The federal prison camps where Harn, DaSilva, and Davis will be serving have exercise rooms and offer educational programs. All inmates are given jobs.

"These are the types of places they send people like [Ivan] Boesky and [Michael] Milken," said one person involved in the case, referring to the 1980's junk-bond traders. "It's for those types of offenses. There are no bars. It's dormitory-style living, no violence. But it's still incarceration. You still belong to them. We're not talking about summer camp. But they're not physically oppressive either."