04/04/2006 12:00AM

Trainer Greg Martin pleads guilty


Federal prosecutors have secured guilty pleas from five people who were indicted last year in connection with an illegal gambling operation and a conspiracy to bet on a horse who was given a banned substance before a race at Aqueduct in 2003, according to court records.

Greg Martin, a trainer who was formerly based at Aqueduct, pleaded guilty on March 23 to one count of conspiracy to dope a racehorse, according to records from U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In addition, Cesare Uvari and Anthony Uvari, two principals in a gambling ring that prosecutors said funneled $200 million in bets over four years through five rebate shops, pleaded guilty on Monday to operating an illegal gambling business. Jonathan Broome, an intermediary between the gamblers and the rebate shops, pleaded guilty last September to wire fraud, according to court records. Broome is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5.

The fifth defendant to plead guilty, Jeffrey Gruber, was sentenced on March 29 to three years' probation, six months of home confinement, and a $2,000 fine, according to court records. Gruber pleaded guilty last June to one count of gambling conspiracy.

The guilty pleas were made over the course of 10 months, dating from the Gruber plea last June to the plea by the Uvaris on Monday, but did not come to light until a review of court records on Tuesday.

Heather Tasker, a spokeswoman for the U.S. district attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Tuesday that the attorney's office would have no comment on the guilty pleas or any other aspect of the case, citing department policy not to comment on open cases. Another 11 people remain under indictment in the case.

Attorneys for the defendants who pleaded guilty did not return phone calls on Tuesday.

In January of last year, federal prosecutors indicted 17 people for participating in the scheme on a total of 88 charges. Since the indictment, one of the defendants, Marvin Meyerowitz, died in a fire at his apartment in New Jersey on May 8. Meyerowitz was described in the indictment as one of the ringleaders of the gambling operation.

In the indictment, Martin, a New York-based trainer, was charged with "giving a racehorse a performance-enhancing substance" and "placing bets on that racehorse to win a horse race." A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled for Martin, according to the court records.

Martin's training license was revoked by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board after the indictment. The race occurred on Dec. 18, 2003, and involved the horse A One Rocket, who five days earlier won a lower-level claiming race by 10 lengths.

The indictment said that Rene Poulin, a former harness racing driver, conspired with Martin to win the race. Poulin pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to dope a racehorse last year.

Anthony Uvari and Cesare Uvari are scheduled to be sentenced on July 6 in U.S. District Court by Judge Miriam Cedarbaum, according to court records, for running an illegal gambling operation.

Cesare Uvari was described in the indictment as one of the ringleaders in the gambling operation, along with a brother, Gerald, and Gerald's son Anthony. All three were described in the indictment as being associates of the Gambino organized crime family.

The indictment charged that the Uvari family members, along with David Appelbaum and Meyerowitz, ran a gambling operation in which they consolidated bets using fictitious accounts in order to collect rebates on the wagers. The Uvari members were also charged with using false information on their tax returns.

Appelbaum, his son Jonathan, and his wife, Linda, entered not guilty pleas last year, and the status of those pleas has not changed, according to court records.