By: Matt Hegarty
George R. Albright, a trainer based at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa., with nearly 4,000 lifetime starts, has been charged by a Pennsylvania county district attorney with one count of rigging a publicly exhibited contest, according to his attorney and court documents.
The attorney, William Fetterhoff, said Albright will dispute the charge at a preliminary hearing Oct. 18 in Magisterial District Court in Annville, Pa. The charge is based on the allegation that Albright administered a regulated medication within a 48-hour period prior to a race, when the only legal medication is furosemide, the anti-bleeding medication, Fetterhoff said.
“We plan to contest the charge very vigorously,” Fetterhoff said.
Albright, who has 20 wins from 116 starts this year with purse earnings of $358,329, last started a horse on Sept. 29 at Penn National, and he has horses entered on Thursday at Penn National and at Delaware Park.
Officials of Penn National declined to comment on the case. Officials of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horse Racing Commission had not responded to a phone call by midafternoon.
The charge is believed to stem from a yearslong investigation of the Penn National backstretch conducted by the FBI in conjunction with state police and the state racing commission. That investigation, which was started in 2013, has secured guilty pleas from four veterinarians who agreed in 2015 to assist in the probe and a jury-trial conviction last year of trainer Murray Rojas on 14 charges related to the misbranding of drugs. She is awaiting sentencing.
The FBI investigation, which resulted in charges being filed by the U.S. District Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, was believed to be close to complete. The charge against Albright came from the Dauphin County District Attorney.
According to the court docket, the charge is based on an offense from May 17, 2013.