Penn National horse trainer indicted on wire fraud charges
HARRISBURG, Pa. –A grand jury indicts a Grantville woman on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. Murray L. Rojas, 49, is a local thoroughbred horse trainer. According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Rojas was charged in a five count indictment for conduct related to 11 races in which she had horses entered at Penn National Race Course in early 2013.
According to the indictment, Rojas directed and conspired with unnamed and unindicted co-conspirator veterinarian(s) to administer substances to horses on the day the horses were entered to race. That’s a violation of the Pennsylvania law and racing rules and regulations prohibiting the administering of those substances.
The indictment further alleges that steps were taken to conceal this conduct by the backdating of invoices for the sale and administration of drugs to the horses on race day, as well as submitting fraudulent veterinarian treatment reports to the Pennsylvania Racing Commission. The purse money for the races is funded by the interstate electronic transfer of funds and the transmission of these funds that are used to pay successful owners/trainers is essential to the alleged scheme to defraud.
The indictment also alleges that Rojas obtained winnings totaling $52,360 from the 11 races in which it is alleged she directed the administration of prohibited substances to her horses.
The case was investigated by the by the Harrisburg Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Horse Racing Commission. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe.
The Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (PA HBPA), which represents all horse trainers at Penn National, today released the following statement:
“Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry has worked hard to create 23,000 jobs and invest $4 billion annually into the state economy. Despite today’s news, it’s important to note that our trainers participate in one of the most rigorous drug testing systems in place through the University of Pennsylvania’s Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Lab (PETRL) – and pass 99.5 percent of all tests. Fair, legal competition is our highest priority. We were one of the first organizations of horse trainers in the country to voluntarily implement third-party administration of race day treatments, banning private veterinarians from treatment stalls – now considered a national standard.”
PETRL is one of the finest horse toxicology laboratories in the world. It tests all winning horses, and is the first laboratory to develop and establish a method for confirming blood-doping agents in racehorse serum.