By Frank Angst
A review of federal court records outlining the criminal cases against four Penn National Race Course veterinarians reveals that the vets allegedly followed trainers’ orders on what medications should be administered to horses.
The four vets involved, Kevin Brophy, Fernando Motta, Christopher Korte, and Renee Nodine have admitted guilt to misdemeanor charges involving unlawful prescriptions. The guilty pleas are a condition of plea agreements each entered with the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
In each case outlined in court records, trainers allegedly told the veterinarians which substances they wanted administered to particular horses each day. Those medications or substances were then administered on race day by the vets. The vets then are accused of back-dating the date the drugs were administered in an effort to conceal this alleged criminal activity.
“It was part of the conspiracy charged … that Thoroughbred horse trainers known to the United States ordered from (one of the four charged vets) substances the trainers wanted administered to a particular horse(s) entered in a particular race on race day,” read each of the case outlines of the four charged vets.
In reports made to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, the vets are accused of back-dating the reports to make it appear substances were administered more than 24 hours before a race. In some cases the vets allegedly omitted entirely any report of the administration of the substances during the prohibited timeframe.
Federal law enforcement believes these actions amount to administering drugs without a lawful written or oral prescription. The four vets are charged with “adulteration or misbranding” a drug.
According to federal records filed to this point, the veterinarians are not accused of administering particularly powerful drugs in terms of performance-enhancing or pain-killing effects. The substances allegedly administered were Adequan, Banamine (flunixin), Bute (phenylbutazone), dexamethasone, Gastrogard (omeprazole), “and other such prescription animal drugs.”
These substances rate on the low end of the penalty scale on the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances when they are found in excess of allowed limits in post-race drug tests. The prescription issue is what federal law enforcement pursued in these cases.
According to court filings, Brophy allegedly committed these acts from 1986 through May 2012; Motta from November 2005-August 2014; Korte from May 2010-August 2014, and Nodine from July 1992-August 2014.
In 2013 federal indictments were filed against three Penn National trainers, David Wells, Sam Webb, and Patricia Anne Rogers; as well as clocker Danny Robertson. Wells pled guilty to race-rigging in a state court, Webb’s case was thrown out of federal court, and Rogers’ case continues. Robertson entered a guilty plea in federal court.
The four veterinarians are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in mid-April. Brophy, Motta, and Korte are scheduled April 14 at the Harrisburg, Pa. court, while Nodine is scheduled for arraignment on April 13 at the same court.