10/22/2014 3:06PM

Wells reaches plea deal in race-fixing case


U.S. prosecutors have agreed to drop a three-count federal indictment alleging race fixing against the trainer David Wells in exchange for Wells pleading guilty to one misdemeanor charge of “rigging a publicly exhibited contest” in a Pennsylvania state court, according to court documents filed last week.

In an order signed Oct. 14, Judge William Caldwell of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania approved the agreement to send the case to Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. The order says the plea agreement requires Wells to plead guilty to “comparable charges addressing essentially the same criminal conduct underlying the federal charges.”

The plea agreement is not expected to go in front of the county court until March, the order states.

The attorney for Wells, Jeffrey J. Russo, did not respond to requests for information via e-mail Wednesday.

“Rigging a publicly exhibited contest” is a misdemeanor of the first degree in Pennsylvania, and it carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, according to Pennsylvania criminal codes.

Wells was arrested and handcuffed with two other trainers on the backside of Penn National Racecourse late last year. In an indictment unsealed after the arrest, prosecutors said the arrests were a culmination of a four-year investigation. All three trainers were charged with three felony counts related to race fixing that carried prison sentences of up to 40 years. They were immediately suspended indefinitely by the state racing commission.

While the indictments of the other two trainers listed a specific instance in which the trainers were alleged to have administered an illegal substance to a horse on race day, the indictment against Wells alleged that the trainer “would routinely inject prohibited substances into horses he trained and other horses he both trained and owned.” The indictment of Wells did not identify any specific horses who were administered medications on race day, nor did it identify the medications.

Wells was the trainer of Rapid Redux, who was given a Special Eclipse Award in 2012 after winning 22 consecutive races. The indictment of Wells covered “a period of several years prior to February 2012.”

The charges against one of the other trainers, Sam Webb, were thrown out by Caldwell earlier this year.

Caldwell said the federal government would be unable to prove that Webb broke a federal law even if the allegations in the indictment were true. The horse named in the indictment who was allegedly administered an illegal substance was scratched before it raced.

The other trainer, Patricia Rogers, also has had her case moved to the Dauphin County court. Her next court date is set for November.

russell More than 1 year ago
Stewards don't do their jobs. they are on the take. There was a time at the inner meet at Aqu when Jose Santos was riding at 126 lbs. No one said anything until it was reported.
David More than 1 year ago
the ironic thing here is that these guys were still training when they were arrested! and it took them getting arrested to have them banned!! I smell more than one rat!!!!!!!!!!
HatzOffToNixon More than 1 year ago
Don't feel bad, there's more fraud on Wall St in a day than in 10 years at the racetrakc.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
even if that's true its irrelevant...this is not about wall street.its about racing. its like saying people cheat and steal so its ok for someone to mug you.it happens.
russell More than 1 year ago
Close down the track. What an embarassment for people that do bet.
Scott Scheib More than 1 year ago
I have been handicapping horse racing for over 25 years now and unfortunately, I am embarrassed to say my home track is Penn National. I Have literally won thousands of dollars and lost a few as well. I have competed and won handicapping contests and believe I am a decent player. Never, and I mean never, have I scored reasonably at that crooked and cheating track. I know horse people there and they are a joke. The same cheating occurred 10 years ago just more money due to slot revenue. The only people that win significantly are connections to the that track's backside. Kudos to the feds!
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Finally the feds get to act and arrest cheats at the track..its very good that they are examining these cheating trainers and watching their moves for years building cases.hopefully this is also going on at big tracks like BELMONT,AQUEDUCT,SARATOGA where its badly needed. obviously the stewards are incapable of keeping the game honest. some of them might overlook wrong doing for a hot tip .and if no one is watching organized crime takes a hold. I hope some of these cheats/criminals see jail time as well as life time bans .that will be the only way to discourage the big boys from doing the same.
mike More than 1 year ago
Ray just wanted to say your comments are always great. Enjoy reading your views.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
thank you.
HatzOffToNixon More than 1 year ago
The stews are probably afraid for their lives,
russell More than 1 year ago
The stewards should be fired. They are either complicit or ignorant.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
that track is always in the papers for crooked stuff. close the track down for 3 months and encourage the laid off workers to have a "blanket party" for the cheaters.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
maybe the reason that this track is always in the news is maybe a combination of two things.theres cheating going on and the local fed agency cares enough to investigate. In NEW YORK there's cheating and no one cares. the feds have other things on their plate unfortunately.
Walter More than 1 year ago
When the day comes that a horse can talk, will be the same day that race fixing will stop. The horse is a rock solid witness that will never tell what is being done to them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Races will always be fixed. Thats just the way it is
russell More than 1 year ago
that is true. Jose Amy was the fall guy in NY 40 years ago. Jose V was stoned on coke on a daily basis. But he still rode well. Cordero, well he was Cordero. Still the best big money rider not named Mike Smith.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
That should be racing is fixed when no one cares..and that goes for any gambling ..imagine that casinos were not heavily regulated and watched or that companies could run lotto without state regulator on watch.. horseracing kind of polices itself with incompetent stewards who have no power to arrest and no investigative skills. And in many cases unwilling to step on any influential toes.so the top stables and top owners and jockeys all get a pass. in new York for example you cant even get the stewards to bring down a Phipps horse that takes out a rival no objection against a Phipps has a chance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Racing needs the stewards to be policed .Possibly by a national agency.How many times have you watched a boxing match and 1 judge has the score totally lopsided from the other 2?(Obviously bought/fixed)That is why the sport of boxing has become a non-entity.All objections/film/&decisions along with each individual stewards decision could be scrutinized to see if there is a pattern/or bias to a stable or individual.The reason is no national cohesion.
russell More than 1 year ago
true again. i dont ever remember a Phipps horse being DQd.