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Trainer/owner David Wells has agreed to plead guilty to the state misdemeanor charge of “rigging a publicly exhibited contest” at Penn National Race Course, according to court documents, in exchange for a three-count federal indictment being dropped.
Last November, following a four-year investigation, a federal grand jury indicted Wells, trainers Patricia Rogers and Samuel Webb, along with clocker Danny Robertson on charges including wire fraud and use of an interstate facility to promote gambling in violation of the law. Prosecutors alleged the trainers injected illegal drugs into horses prior to races on at least one occasion and in Wells’ case, that he did so “routinely.” Robertson was accused of accepting cash to falsify workouts and transmit bogus information to Equibase.
In June, the case against Webb was dropped due to lack of evidence and Robertson signed a plea agreement. Like Wells, Rogers has had her case moved from federal court to Pennsylvania’s Dauphin County and has a court date set for next month.
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following statement:
“The David Wells matter and the related case of two other defendants have been turned over to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office because we concluded that it was appropriate to prosecute those cases in state court rather than federal court. Based on the facts the actions of the defendant were more readily applicable to state court proceedings especially in light of the previous ruling by the judge in the federal case. We note that one of the defendants did plead guilty in federal court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Behe, the prosecutor in the federal case, has been designated as a Special Assistant District Attorney for the purposes of the state court proceeding. We would also note that the federal investigation in regard to activities related to the race track is continuing. We have no further comment at this time.”
According to FOX43, David Wells’ attorney, Jerry Russo, said he and the prosecution are still working out details of a plea agreement and is due in court next month but that Wells is looking at a reduced punishment.
Wells could face up to five years in prison on the state charge of rigging a publicly exhibited contest. The federal charges would carry much longer prison terms.
Wells trained Rapid Redux, the horse that was given a special Eclipse Award in 2012 after winning 22 consecutive races.