By: T.D. Thornton
Last week’s 14-count federal felony conviction of trainer Murray Rojas for misbranding equine prescription drugs led to a Thursday notice of her banishment from Penn National Race Course, where the pattern of offenses was proven to have taken place over a multi-year period.
Shortly thereafter, Penn National’s banishment was backed by a higher authority, when Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Thoroughbred Racing released a ruling that revoked “all licenses presently held” by Rojas.
While Penn National’s private-property ban does not have to be recognized by other tracks and jurisdictions, the state’s commission-level revocation is expected to be honored in reciprocal fashion by other licensing bureaus nationwide.
The Rojas conviction stemmed from an extensive Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into corruption and conspiracy at Penn National that has already resulted in the convictions of nine other Thoroughbred owners, trainers, racing officials, and veterinarians for various race-fixing and horse drugging schemes that occurred between 2002 and 2014.
On June 30, a jury in United States District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, found Rojas guilty on 13 counts of misbranding of prescription drugs and one related count of conspiracy. The 51-year-old Grantville resident was deemed not guilty on six counts of wire fraud and one count of related conspiracy. A former leading trainer at Penn National, Rojas is awaiting sentencing; her attorney has indicated in published reports that an appeal is forthcoming.
On Thursday, both the Paulick Report and Blood-Horse websites broke news that Murray Rojas and her husband, trainer Eduardo Rojas, would be barred from Penn National. Stephanie Beattie, another previously top-ranked Penn trainer who had testified at the Rojas trial that she and between “95 and 98%” of other horsemen treated entrants with illegal race-day medications, was also barred by track officials.
Although Murray Rojas’s commission ruling was published by the Paulick ReportThursday, it was not listed as of late Friday on the public records database maintained by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.
It took a phone call to Jason Klouser, director of enforcement for the commission, to yield an emailed copy of the Rojas ruling. Klouser would not comment for the record when asked if similar license revocations might be pending for Eduardo Rojas and Beattie.
Ruling 17053C reads, in part, that “The evidence presented at trial revealed that Murray Rojas conspired with three veterinarians to have drugs administered to horses on race day, and to backdate the invoices for the sale and administration of those drugs with the intent to defraud the State Horse Racing Commission.”
The TDN attempted to contact Eduardo and Murray Rojas and Stephanie Beattie, but was unable to reach them.