by Frank Vespe

Four veterinarians with practices at Penn National have been charged with administering drugs to Thoroughbred race horses within 24 hours of when the horse was entered to race in violation of the state criminal law prohibiting the rigging of publicly exhibited contests, the US Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today.  In addition, the veterinarians are alleged to have violated federal law by administering the medications without a valid prescription.

The four charged are Dr. Kevin Brophy, age 60; Dr. Fernando Motta, age 44; Dr. Christopher Korte, age 43; and Dr. Renee Nodine, age 52.

In addition to the charges, the government also filed plea agreements with each of the defendants.  If the agreements are accepted by the court, each veterinarian will plead guilty to the charges and agree to cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation.

According to US Attorney Peter Smith, the four engaged in the alleged behaviors over a lengthy period of time, beginning as early as 1986 and continuing through last August.  They also allegedly conspired with trainers to administer the drugs, in violation of state and federal laws.

The charges, resulting from an investigation at Penn National, follow an earlier spate of prosecutions involving trainers David Wells, Samuel Webb and Patricia Rogers, all of whom were accused of drug-related offenses, and clocker Danny Robertson, who allegedly falsified workout times.  Wells was convicted and sentenced to jail time in February.  Robertson received probation under a plea agreement.  Webb’s case was dismissed, and Rogers has yet to face trial.

According to the charges, the vets would administer the prohibited medications at the behest of their co-conspirator trainers, then backdate billing records to make it seem that they had not illegally administered the drugs.  Moreover, the charges allege, the veterinarians then submitted false reports omitting any mention of the drugs to the state Racing Commission.

Those actions, said the release, “had the potential to defraud other owners and trainers whose horses were entered in the same race and defrauded the betting public as well.”

The alleged crimes carry maximum penalties of two years in prison and a $200,000 fine.