By Paulick Report Staff
Pennsylvania trainer Murray Rojas has pleaded not guilty on federal wire fraud and conspiracy charges related to allegations of illegal race-day drugging of horses running at Penn National race course in early 2013.
The plea by the two-time leading Penn National trainer came on Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Rojas, 49, is being represented by attorney Robert Goldman. A jury trial has been scheduled for Nov. 2, 2015.
Rojas was indicted Aug. 12 by a federal grand jury on charges that she directed and conspired with veterinarians to administer medication to horses on race-day, a violation of Pennsylvania law. The indictment further says Rojas concealed the conduct by backdating invoices for the sale and administration of drugs to horses on the day they were to race and to submit fraudulent veterinary treatment reports to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.
The wire fraud and conspiracy charges are based on purse money won by horses she trained being funded through interstate wagering and the money being transmitted electronically.
If found guilty, Rojas faces up to 20 years of imprisonment on each count. She was released without bond.
Rojas has not had a starter since Aug. 18 at Presque Isle Downs. She has won 11 races from 87 starts this year and 785 races from 4,783 career starts since 2000, with earnings of $11.8 million.
Rojas is the fourth Pennsylvania-based trainer since November 2013 to be indicted on fraud by a federal grand jury, which also charged a clocker who worked at Penn National (charges against one of the trainers was later dropped). Earlier this year, four Pennsylvania-based veterinarians were indicted and pleaded guilty to conspiring to treat horses illegally within 24 hours of a race as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation that involves the FBI and Pennsylvania Racing Commission.
The Pennsylvania Racing Commission has taken no action against Rojas and her license has not been suspended or revoked at this time, according to commission spokesperson Brandi Hunter-Davenport.