01/08/2002 12:00AM

Turf writer held in theft

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Theft charges are pending in a Bexar County, Texas, court against Steve Habel, an Austin-based freelance turf writer who allegedly cashed 37 checks totaling $22,375.97 on a Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, Texas Chapter, account. Habel was arrested at Retama Park in Selma, Texas, on Dec. 6, and is being held at Bexar County Jail.

The forged checks were allegedly cashed between July and September 2001. Theft charges in the amount of $1,500 up to $20,000 - the range of some of the checks cashed - is a felony punishable by a fine and up to two years in a state jail or up to five years probation in the state.

According to a Bexar County official, an indictment hearing is likely to be held within the next 30 to 60 days.

An investigation by the Selma Police Department is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month.

Among the organizations Habel freelances for are the Thoroughbred Times, American Quarter Horse Association, Texas Thoroughbred Magazine, and Retama Park.