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Four alleged race fixers are pleading not guilty to all charges relating to a harness racing event at Cobram in 2015. Champion driver Nathan Jack, his partner Amanda Turnbull and Avenel pair Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The four accused have been charged with conduct that corrupts a betting outcome among other offences, after an investigation into the tactics adopted during a race on June 22, 2015 — which Airbournemagic won. Separate lawyers represented each defendant, as prosecutor Gary Hevey read out a case summary to a packed courtroom. ‘‘This case alleges corruption,’’ he told the court. ‘‘Using corrupt information for betting purposes ... it relates to the stabling, training and racing of a horse known as Airbournemagic and its winning of race four in Cobram. ‘‘In particular, allegations relate to information in possession of defendants ... the likely performance of Airbournemagic and failing to provide that information to Harness Racing Victoria.’’ Mr Hevey briefly outlined details of the charges to Magistrate John Murphy and outlined the role Harness Racing Victoria played in the sport. Court documents The News obtained told how Airbournemagic was allegedly at the stables of Ms Turnbull, a highly-regarded trainer, and Mr Jack, an experienced driver. But the details given to Harness Racing Victoria said Airbournemagic was at the stables of another person in Congupna. Due to the incorrect information allegedly given to Harness Racing Victoria, this increased the odds betting agencies set. ‘‘There are numerous messages which have been seized and downloaded in relation to the case,’’ Mr Hevey told the court. Prosecution is set to bring forward numerous witnesses from different betting agencies to give evidence, including representatives from Bet365, Ladbrokes and a Victoria Police financial analyst. The court heard how based on Airbournemagic being stabled at the Congupna address, Bet365 opened the betting ahead of the June 22, 2015 race at $35. Airbournemagic eventually jumped at just $4.80 with ‘‘thousands and thousands of dollars’’ returned from profits, Mr Hevey will allege. When Mr Jack took to the track with his horse Tooram Lad, he allegedly allowed Airbournemagic, which was close behind him for much of the race, to win. During the race, it is alleged Mr Jack was ‘‘overtly and continually looking behind his shoulder’’ at Airbournemagic, which Mr Pitt drove, for much of the race. Footage is set to be tendered to the court this week, with the trial estimated to run for more than a week. ‘‘The third section of the race was run at 27 seconds — the fastest time recorded in the last 10 years ... Mr Jack ran Tooram Lad ragged so he could not win the race,’’ Mr Hevey told the court. ‘‘When you combine that (footage) with the text messages in relation to betting ahead of the race and on the day and thereafter ... it is inescapable.’’ Ms Turnbull allegedly got a family member to place a bet on the race, which paid off with winnings of $2236.23. Ms Bartley, who allegedly helped with the training of Airbournemagic along with Mr Jack, also allegedly won $2274.24 on a winning bet on the race. Lawyers for the accused are set to object to a number of pieces of evidence, including the downloading of phone data seized, certain answers given to racing stewards and subsequent material Victoria Police obtained during a search warrant. ‘‘There is a question of unfairness of the accused,’’ Mr Jack’s defence lawyer Anthony Lewis told the court. ‘‘(We have) similar issues ... challenge the interview with stewards ... use of phone material downloaded and a challenge to the seizing of the mobile phone,’’ Ms Bartley’s defence lawyer Rohan Laurence said. Many of the charges face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison. The hearing continues today. The race in question By HAYDEN THOMSON Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News  

With respect to the actions taken by Victoria Police on 14 November, 2017 where a 60-year-old male from the Bendigo area was interviewed and released without charge, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) provides the following update. HRV advises in respect of this matter, they have spoken to the licensed participant allegedly involved and advised them to provide submissions addressing why action should not be taken under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR). Any such submissions are to be provided by 10.00 am on Friday 24 November 2017 and will be given due consideration thereafter prior to any decision being made. With respect to the Victoria Police investigation, HRV is unable to make any comment. Harness Racing Victoria 

A Victorian harness-racing trainer has been arrested by police as part of a criminal investigation. The Herald Sun has been told the inquiry is looking into allegations of race fixing from several years ago. Detectives from the Victoria Police sporting integrity intelligence unit executed two warrants in central Victoria on Tuesday. The searches were made on properties in the Bendigo area. A Victoria Police spokesman said a 60-year-old man was arrested and interviewed and has been released pending summons. That man has been a harness-racing trainer for decades. “The investigation remains ongoing,” the police spokesman said. A harness-racing figure connected to the properties declined to comment when contacted by the Herald Sun. “I’ve got no comment at all,” he said. Victoria Police set up the sporting integrity intelligence unit in 2013 amid heightened corruption concerns. It has previously run significant investigations into fixing in harness-racing. By Leo Schlink and Mark Buttler, Herald Sun Reprinted with permission of The Herald Sun  

The investigative arm of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has struck again. This time it is high-profile harness racing media personality Marshall Dobson, who has been arrested and bailed to face court at a date to be set. The charges are "money laundering” through a fictitious betting account and the sums are believed to run into the millions. Dobson was at one time a popular choice as on-track Master of Ceremonies at major harness carnivals. With the election just a few weeks away, harness punters and harness participants want to hear that a commitment to iron tight control, and a punter friendly race format, will be the aim of all major parties. Join Marburg excitement THE countdown is on again as the Marburg Pacing Association heads prepares to host the postponed "Oktoberfest/ Harriott Memorial” race meeting. It has been rescheduled for Sunday November 12, with a projected nine race program. That includes the "Summerfest/Harriott Memorial”. It will feature two bookies plus "funny money”, two $100 lucky gate draws, $1250 "pick the last six winners” comp, monster raffle, craft beers from three boutique breweries with German sausage and sauerkraut to complement the lager and ale. The meeting will also have a Tug-O-War, a harnessing demonstration, the introduction of the "Costin Plastic” horse shoe, craft stalls, jumping castle and other attractions for the kids. Gates open at 11am. Meanwhile, the Marburg Pacing Association AGM is this morning after trials at 9.30am. Stable's high hopes THE Turpin/McMullen stable have exciting five-year-old Mattgregor starting at TABCORP Park, Menangle, tonight. Unbeaten in both starts this campaign, Mattgregor will head to Melton the following week for the Group 2 $75,000 4 & 5yo Championship. "He'll start this week at Menangle and that should top him off for the feature the following week,'' it was reported on the Australian Harness Racing website. "He's in great order and enjoys the surroundings at Menangle. "He's come through his trial last week in good shape and we're happy with the way he is right now.” Mattgregor won an Albion Park 1660m trial on October 24 in 1:54.9 while finishing off in 26.9 seconds. The Rob Roy Mattgregor gelding has won 12 from 24 to date. While the above is cause for joy, it is balanced by the news that stable star, Watch Pulp Fiction, sustained a tendon injury at his most recent start. Watch Pulp Fiction will be on the receiving end of sophisticated vet treatment for some time. It is not always "beer and skittles” in the world of harness racing, quite often the downs outweigh the ups. Extreme heat policy THE Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has released advice on caring for racing animals in extreme heat. "With summer almost upon us, it's a good time to be able to provide this advice through the Commission's extreme heat policy which sets out the key principles for caring for racing animals in hot weather,” Commissioner Ross Barnett said. "The policy defines the measures to be taken in hot weather when temperatures rise above 35°C including the allocation of extra staff and other resources to race meetings to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all racing animals.” The advice includes two fact sheets to assist with preventing and treating heat stress in horses and greyhounds as the two species respond to heat in different ways. The QRIC's extreme heat policy and associated fact sheets can be viewed at www.qric.qld.gov.au/veterinary-services-animal-welfare/heat-policy-and-factsheets/ Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 1-5-6-8: War Dan Appollo (T. Moffat)-Feel The Courage (P. McMullen)-Polished Rocks (M Neilson)-Written In Red (P Diebert). R2: Quinella 2-4: Comply Or Die (N McMullen) and Shareapassion (P. McMullen). R3: Quinella 1-8: Lancelot Bromac (H. Barnes) and Withalotofluck (I. Ross). R4: Village Witch (N. McMullen) and Always My Mate (P. McMullen). R5: Quinella 2-5: Philanderer (M. Neilson) and Chal Fire (K. Dawson). R6: Quinella 1-7: Living Grand (H. Barnes) and Glenferrie Boss (C. Petroff). R7: Box trifecta 1-3-4-8: Projectile (K. Smith)-Only In Rome (T. Dawson)-Jakes Joy (G Dixon)-Domestic Art (H. Barnes). R8: Quinella 3-4: Win Or Die (N. Dawson) and Weedons Express (N. McMullen). R9: E/w 7: Ultimate Art (A. Sanderson). R10: Quinella 4-10: Heavens Hint (N. Dawson) and Firebby (C. Cini). Honour board Sisters in-law on the leader board this week with Chantal Turpin top trainer, leading in four winners, and Narissa McMullen driving for the same result in the sulky. Most pleasing is the continued success of ex-Sandgroper Michael Tenardi, with Top Flight Cruize at Redcliffe. Albion Park, October 27: Call Me Yours (Steven Doherty for Tess Neaves); Fon Ideal (Adam Richardson) for Donny Smith); Comply Or Die (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis). Albion Park, October 28: Flaming Hero (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins); Bettabe Perfect (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Always My Mate (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Wattlebank Flyer (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Village Witch (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Royal Counsel (Darrell Graham). Albion Park, October 31: Only In Rome (Isobel Ross for Trent Dawson); Timmo Time (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey). Redcliffe, November 1: Real Knuckey (Hayden Barnes for Peter Jones); Royal Counsel (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Heez Perfect (Gary Litzow); Summer Money (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie); Summer Money (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie); Cocoa Cheval (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); Top Flight Cruize (Michael Tenardi); Luv You Grazaella (Nathan Dawson for Merv Hieronymus). Redcliffe, November 2: The Restauranteur (Adam Richardson for Lee Storie); Lynchman (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen); Zenmach (Paul Matis); Master Montana (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); The Lunchbox Bully (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin); Magnussen (Lachie Manzelmann for Adam Richardson). by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

A harness racing identity will face court accused of running millions of dollars through a fake betting account. The 61-year-old, from The Gap in Brisbane’s west, will face court next month after being charged under anti-money-laundering and terrorism-financing laws. Detectives from the Racing Crime Squad, working with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, charged the man after a long-running investigation into his betting activities. Commissioner Ross Barnett said the man was accused of using a false name to place bets on harness races in Queensland and Western Australia via an online account. “The money that has gone through the account over a 10-year period is well into the millions,” he said. “In one 16-month period — from September 2015 to December 2016 — the figure was $1.77 million.” Police described the man as a “harness racing participant”. The man was today granted bail and will appear in court on November 13. By Kate Kyriacou Reprinted with permission of The Courier-Mail

Four harness racing drivers accused of race-fixing will face a hearing next month. Nathan Jack, Mark Pitt, Amanda Turnbull and Lisa Bartley all fronted Shepparaton Magistrates Court on Thursday. Their individuals cases were adjourned for hearing on November 27. It comes over a year since the quartet were arrested at Melton and charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome. Reprinted with permission of The Daily Advertiser

Queensland harness racing fixer Barton Cockburn has been warned off for life from all race tracks in the state. In a Brisbane court on Wednesday, 28-year-old Cockburn was fined $5000 after pleading guilty to three charges of match fixing at the Albion Park Paceway in November 2016. The driver-trainer was one of three people charged with match fixing offences in April this year by detectives from the Queensland Racing Crime Squad after an investigation of match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. On Friday, Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett announced he had cancelled Cockburn's license and advised him he had been warned off for life from all race tracks in Queensland. "Mr Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing – thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Mr Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." QRIC warns about severe bans for fixing Participants in Queensland's three racing codes have been put on notice they face severe bans if they engage in match-fixing. Queensland Racing Integrity Commission boss Ross Barnett said harness driver Barton Cockburn, who pleaded guilty to match-fixing charges in the Magistrates Court last week, had been warned off for life. The ban means Cockburn can't attend any racetrack in the world. "Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing, thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." Cockburn was one of three people charged with match-fixing offences in April this year after the Racing Crime Squad investigated match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. He was fined $5000 with no conviction recorded. Barnett said the addition of two more full-time investigators to the RCS would bolster the commission's commitment to integrity.

Two out of three of the defendants found guilty in June this year of ‘Obtaining by deception’ in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution of a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud have been sentenced in the Wellington High Court today. Michael O’Brien, guilty of five charges, received a sentence of imprisonment for four years, six months. Kevin Coffey, guilty of one charge, was sentenced to home detention for 12 months. Paul Max, guilty of three charges, will be sentenced in the Wellington High Court on 27 July. The case involved the manipulation of gambling licenses and grants and the offending was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand and the SFO. It was a significant case in New Zealand for the ‘Class 4’ gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs. SFO Director, Julie Read said, “The sentences imposed today reflect the very serious nature of the misconduct in this case. The proceeds from pokie machines, intended to provide community funding for sport, health, education and other activities, were directed to entities nominated by Michael O’Brien so that he could obtain a personal benefit amounting to $6.86 million.” ENDS For further media information Andrea Linton Serious Fraud Office 027 705 4550 Note to editors CRIMES ACT OFFENCES Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,— (a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or (b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or (c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or (d) causes loss to any other person.  (1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered. (2) In this section, deception means— (a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—   (i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or   (ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or (b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or (c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.  ABOUT THE SFO The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act. The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption. The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption. This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy. The SFO has three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams. The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers. Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”  Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”  In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to: the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or; the suspected scale of the fraud and/or; the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or; any relevant public interest considerations. The SFO’s Annual Report 2016 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz The SFO Twitter feed is @FraudSeriousNZ

Verdicts were handed down in the trial of three people, including harness racing trainer Mike O'Brien,  charged with offences in relation to a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud in the Wellington High Court today. The defendants; Michael Joseph O’Brien (58) of Blenheim, Paul Anthony Max (60) of Nelson, and Kevin Coffey (57) of Hastings, faced Crimes Act charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’. Michael O’Brien has been found guilty of five charges, Paul Max has been found guilty of three charges and the remaining defendant has been found guilty of one charge and not guilty of one other. The manipulation of gambling licenses and grants was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The investigation was a significant case in New Zealand for the ‘Class 4’ gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs. SFO Director, Julie Read said, “Funding from pokie machines provides millions of dollars of community funding for sport, health, education and other activities every year. Operation Chestnut has been effective in enabling the DIA to pinpoint areas where compliance can be lifted in the sector so that pokie machine benefits can continue without the risk of manipulation or potential criminal activity.” The defendants were remanded in custody by Justice Dobson to next appear for sentencing on 13 July. Andrea Linton Serious Fraud Office 027 705 4550 BACKGROUND TO INVESTIGATION A Pokies 101 guide is available at this link: http://www.dia.govt.nz/Gambling it describes how the Class 4 gambling sector in New Zealand operates. CRIMES ACT OFFENCES Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,- (a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or (b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or (c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or (d) causes loss to any other person. (1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered. (2) In this section, deception means- (a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and- (i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or (ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or (b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or (c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person. ABOUT THE SFO The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act. The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption. The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption. This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy. The SFO has three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams. The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers. Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”  Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”  In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to: the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or; the suspected scale of the fraud and/or; the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or; any relevant public interest considerations. The SFO’s Annual Report 2016 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz The SFO Twitter feed is @FraudSeriousNZ

A man's anger over alleged race fixing at a Queensland harness racing track led to assaults on three drivers, a court has heard. Grant James Gavin, 32, was fined $2000 at Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to three counts of assaulting harness racing drivers at Albion Park Raceway in Brisbane last year. The court heard Gavin was angered after incidents in races involving horses trained by his father, approaching rival drivers before striking them and verbally threatening them. The first assault occurred on April 26, 2016, when Gavin approached a driver who had clashed with his father's horse during a race. "If you ever do it again it will be a bad idea," Gavin told the man before shoving him. On August 12, 2016, Gavin punched a driver and knocked his helmet off, and then on October 28, 2016, the father-of-three punched another driver in the mouth and accused him of lying about an arranged race result. The court heard two of three drivers assaulted by Gavin have since been charged with fixing races. Gavin was charged in February after an investigation by the Queensland Racing Crime Squad. Read more here.    

A Marlborough harness racing identity says the Crown has failed to prove basic elements of charges alleging he was behind a scheme to deceive gambling licensing authorities. In a nearly two-month trial, it was alleged Department of Internal Affairs, which issues licences for pokie gaming machines and the trusts that distribute the profits, was kept in the dark about one man's involvement in a trust intended to channel gambling profits towards racing clubs. Michael (Mike) Joseph O'Brien​, 57, of Blenheim, was in the department's bad books. At the High Court in Wellington on Thursday, O'Brien's lawyer, Bruce Squire, QC, said the department and its inspectors held a "deeply entrenched conviction" that O'Brien was an unsuitable person to be involved in that type of gambling. READ MORE: * Deception alleged in control over pokie machine gambling and profits * Trial ends for elderly pokie gaming fraud defendant Pat O'Brien ​* Defence evidence given in pokie machine profit fraud trial * Long-running pokie gambling fraud trial enters final stages But O'Brien had never been convicted of a Gambling Act offence, and had never been given an opportunity to respond to the claimed unsuitability. The Crown has alleged O'Brien and two other men hid his involvement with setting up and running a trust, Bluegrass, to operate pokie machines and distribute the profits, and with three businesses where machines were sited. But Squire said another defendant had told the department of O'Brien's involvement, and they issued licences for the trust anyway. The court has heard that O'Brien was earning more than $1 million a year lobbying on behalf of racing clubs wanting grants from gaming money. He would invoice the clubs for his services at the start of the season and the Crown alleges O'Brien would then influence or control the grants process so that the clubs received about three times the amount they paid him. One of the men standing trial with O'Brien said there was evidence that the department knew of, and approved, the lobbying arrangement. There were no charges relating to the lobbying or the money received.  In his final address to Justice Robert Dobson, the man, who is representing himself, said he told the department what he knew of O'Brien's involvement helping in administration and advice for O'Brien's father, who was setting up Bluegrass. He said that alongside that information, he told the department O'Brien was not "directly" involved in the trust, which was correct in the context the statement was made. All three defendants pleaded not guilty. O'Brien faces five charges, two relating to the trust and three relating to the gaming machine venues.  Paul Anthony Max, 60, of Nelson, was charged in relation to the three gaming venues, and the 56-year-old man whose name was suppressed faced the two charges relating to the trust. The charges dated from between 2009 and 2013. When the trial began, 15 charges were laid but 10 were dropped. The trial had also begun with O'Brien's father, former New Zealand Harness Racing chairman Patrick O'Brien, 83, of Blenheim, facing charges. The charges against him were stopped due to ill-health.  The Crown alleged that Mike O'Brien in effect directed the grants made to racing clubs, but Squire said the evidence did not support that. One list suggested less than one-quarter of the amounts on O'Brien's "wishlist" were approved.  O'Brien could not have controlled or influenced the grants process without the complicity of the committee that approved grants, and no committee member said their independence was compromised, Squire said. Squire said there was no evidence to support the Crown allegation that O'Brien had influenced grants other trusts made. Reprinted with permission of Stuff  

A Blenheim-based harness racing personality earned more than $1 million a year as a result of influencing or controlling grants from pokie gambling machine profits, the Crown alleges. Horse trainer Michael Joseph O'Brien, 57, is accused of setting up a trust to operate pokie machines in pubs and clubs and being the unseen hand behind it, including controlling where gambling machine profits would be distributed. The Crown says O'Brien's scheme was to invoice racing clubs for "lobbying" for grants on their behalf, and then arrange for the clubs to receive grants of about three times the amount he invoiced them. It was alleged that, from 2006, O'Brien received "substantially more" than $1m per racing season through the invoicing scheme, totalling $11.5m by 2013. He did not face charges relating to the invoicing scheme. READ MORE: * Deception alleged in control over pokie machine gambling and profits * Trial ends for elderly pokie gaming fraud defendant Pat O'Brien ​* Defence evidence given in pokie machine profit fraud trial One racing club representative told the court he would rather not have paid O'Brien's invoices, but O'Brien was "really successful" in lobbying for funds for the club. O'Brien and two others are on trial at the High Court in Wellington facing charges relating to the way O'Brien's involvement in a grant-making trust, and bars and cafes that contained pokie machines, was concealed. The three have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Final addresses for all three were expected this week. On Wednesday, prosecutor Grant Burston said that, through O'Brien's hidden interest in businesses where the pokie machines were placed, and the trust, he could sway the grants process. It depended, however, on being able to conceal his involvement from the Department of Internal Affairs, which regulated the industry, because O'Brien believed the department would not approve the licences if it knew he was involved. There was evidence he had become frustrated with the difficulty of getting gambling money grants for racing clubs, which led to a decrease in his own income. From earning $1.74 million from the racing club invoices in 2007, his earnings dropped to $1.32 in the 2009 racing year. In 2009 he decided to set up his own trust, Bluegrass, to operate the pokie machines in venues he acquired, and control the grants process, it was alleged. From there, racing club income to him or an associated party swung up, and reportedly reached a high of $1.92m in the 2012 racing year.  O'Brien has pleaded not guilty to five charges dating from between 2009 and 2013. At the start of the trial, the Crown laid 15 charges against defendants including O'Brien, but later a decision was made not to proceed on 10 of the charges, dating from 2007 to 2010. O'Brien and a 56-year-old man whose name was suppressed faced two charges of obtaining an operator's licence for Bluegrass, and control over the proceeds of gambling, by falsely representing that O'Brien was not involved. O'Brien and Paul Anthony Max, 60, face three charges relating to getting venue licences for three businesses in 2009 and 2010 by concealing O'Brien's involvement. Max allegedly held O'Brien's interests in his name to conceal O'Brien's involvement. O'Brien's ailing father, Patrick Francis O'Brien, 83, had been one of the defendants but, soon after the trial started on February 27, the judge removed him on health grounds. Patrick O'Brien was a former chairman of Harness Racing New Zealand. The defendants begin their closing addresses to Justice Robert Dobson, sitting without a jury, on Thursday. Reprinted with permission of stuff.co.nz

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Wednesday, April 19, 2017) — Increased out-of-competition testing, investing in additional investigators and research into emerging threats is the most effective way to catch — and, more importantly, deter — cheating in horse racing. That was the big take-away from the drug-testing forum on opening day of the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s 83rd annual conference on Equine Welfare and Racing Integrity at the Charleston Marriott. The panel featured Dr. Scott Stanley of the University of California, Davis, which conducts that state’s horse-racing testing; Dr. Anthony Fontana of Truesdail Laboratories; and, speaking via teleconferencing, Dr. George Maylin, the longtime director of the New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory. Also on the panel was Brice Cote, a former standardbred driver and detective in New Jersey State Police’s racetrack unit who heads the integrity efforts at The Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs harness tracks. Even if the panelists expressed varying beliefs on the prevalence of rules-violators, they all emphasized the importance of out-of-competition testing — taking samples from horses in between races — as a way to detect substances that no longer show in traditional blood or urine tests from samples taken immediately after a race but still could have an impact on a horse’s performance. "The only way we're going to stop this is by intelligence-based policing and out-of-competition testing," Cote said. “Most jurisdictions have very good drug testing,” Stanley said afterward. “We do robust testing, and most of the labs are accredited as well. Now we look at big challenges. And when you look at big challenges, you can make those mountains into molehills, or you can take them off one at a time and get them knocked down. We are doing both. We are taking the ones that have legitimate concerns for the industry, like cobalt when that came up. We found that, set a threshold, established rules and made that go away — quickly. Steroids, anabolic and corticosteroids, those now are well-regulated. This are big wins for the industry. They weren’t low-hanging fruit either. We still have some challenges that have now climbed the tree, they’re higher up. And we need to knock those off.” Stanley discussed the potential of “biological passports” as a tool, in its infancy of development for equines, that could be used in out-of-competition testing. The testing would provide a baseline result to which subsequent testing both pre-race and between races could be compared. “If they change abruptly, if the bio-markers tell us this horse was given an anabolic agent, we don’t have to detect it,” he said of the exact substance. “We’d be able to say, ‘This horse cannot naturally produce this profile. It has to be enhanced.’” “Informed testing, focused testing and targeting testing is something we need to put more emphasis on,” said ARCI president Ed Martin. “Out of competition testing should be expanded, but it’s real value doesn’t come until you’ve expended the research dollars to be able to detect the substances not being detected in the existing out-of-competition testing.” Also Tuesday: A panel of administrative veterinarians discussed keeping horses’ treatment records and the trust issues that arise among equine practitioners, horsemen and regulators as to proper use. Dr. Scott Palmer, New York’s equine medical director, said that regulators getting horses’ treatment records can benefit horsemen and veterinarians because of the research made possible. He noted that Depo-Medrol was the most popular corticosteroid used in joint injections up until 2012. Unknown at the time, the medication could pool in other tissue and stick around longer when used in hocks and stifles, trickier joints than ankles, Palmer said. “We discovered that Depo-Medrol could be found in the joint in a blood test of a horse as long as 100 days after the administration period,” he said. “The idea that you go on the (Racing Medication & Testing Consortium) guidelines and see 21 days for Depo-Medrol is a risky business. It wasn’t accurate, because there was such a variation in the amount of time that the Depo-Medrol would be discoverable in a post-race blood test.” Palmer said that, with what was learned from knowing the location of injections and the timing of administration, veterinarians were cautioned about using Depo-Medrol in the first place. He said that today in New York if a veterinarian uses Depo-Medrol, the horse must be tested for the substance before running. “That’s a good example how we can use the research findings from the medical records, the treatment records to protect people and help create a better regulatory policy,” Palmer said. A morning panel brought various perspectives on how to promote the good in horse racing while not ignoring issues facing the sport. Wagner to players: ‘Regulators do strive to get it right’ Judy Wagner, outgoing ARCI chair and horse racing’s First Lady of Handicapping, had a message for her fellow horseplayers. Wagner is the 2001 National Horseplayers Championship winner, the horseplayers’ representative on the board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the vice chair of the Louisiana Racing Commission. With her one-year term as ARCI chair ending Thursday, she’ll hand the baton to chair-elect Jeff Colliton of the Washington Horse Racing Commission. “As a horseplayer — and this is a message that I want to get across to horseplayers: Regulators do strive to get it right,” she told the audience at the Charleston Marriott for the three-day conference. “We really want to make the players, everybody in the industry, feel that we have an industry of integrity. “Let handicappers know that they have a product that they can respect; they don’t have to handicap the rumors that this trainer is doping horses or whatever. And saying that, I wish that we could educate the public that there is a difference between d-o-p-e and legal medication to help the horse. There is a place for therapeutic drugs.” Committee recommends banning Clenbuterol for Quarter Horses The Quarter Horse Racing Committee voted 5-3 to recommend amending the ARCI model rule to prohibit the bronchodilator Clenbuterol in Quarter Horse and mixed-breed races, with testing in blood serum and plasma, urine and hair permitted. The recommendation now goes to the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee for consideration, then the Model Rules Committee and ultimately the ARCI board, if approved at each step. Clenbuterol is a useful therapeutic medication to treat respiratory ailments, but its abuse to build muscle mass sparked American Quarter Horse Association officials to request that it be completely banned in their breed. The abuse is not seen with Thoroughbreds, for which such muscle build-up could impede running that breed’s longer distances, officials said. The AQHA officials requested that the rule be breed-specific. “We don’t feel it is our job to take it away from other breeds,” said Janet VanBebber, the AQHA’s chief racing officer. “But we readily acknowledge that there is abuse within our breed of the sport.” The three racing jurisdictions voting against the recommendation said they thought it should be banned for all breeds. Ed Martin ARCI president

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Tuesday, April 18, 2017) — Are our testing laboratories catching the cheaters? And are our racing officials getting it right? Those are among the hot-button topics that promise insightful and lively discussion at the ARCI Conference on Racing Integrity and Welfare that runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Charleston Marriott. The three days of panels and presentations address issues facing members of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which represents the only independent entities recognized by law to license, make and enforce rules and adjudicate matters pertaining to pari-mutuel racing. Paul Matties Jr., winner of the 2016 National Handicapping Championship, will provide a horseplayer’s perspective into whether today’s racing officials are making the correct calls. Joining Matties on the “Questioning Whether Racing Officials Get It Right” session on Wednesday morning will be veteran steward Hugh Gallagher, chair of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program and the New York Racing Association’s first safety steward, and Maryland Racing Commission executive director and ARCI treasurer Mike Hopkins. Outgoing ARCI chair and 2001 NHC tournament winner Judy Wagner serves as moderator. “Any time I can represent the horseplayers, I’m always honored,” said the 47-year-old Matties, a professional gambler and horse owner from Ballston Spa, N.Y. “It’s become commonplace in the industry over time that the players are the ones who are forgotten when decisions need to be made. I’m optimistic that somebody is reaching out. All horseplayers go about things in different ways. I’ve been thinking about it, so I can represent everybody — not just what I believe. I’m going to think of it as we’re a group. “I’m not going there to be critical of anything that has been done in the past. Let’s look at future things. I’m excited to go, and I’m curious what kind of things I’ll be asked. I hope Judy doesn’t take it easy on me. I want it to be substantive.” Wagner, who is vice chair of the Louisiana Racing Commission and the horseplayers’ representative on the board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the panel is part of ARCI’s outreach to players to “listen and ensure a product that has a high level of integrity. “We want this panel — and the others at the conference — to provide unvarnished insight and dialogue on how we can improve, as well as what we are doing right.” “ARCI members work for the public and not any aspect of the industry,” said ARCI president Ed Martin. “We are always careful to keep the horseplayer in mind with everything we do.  Horseplayers outnumber everyone else and keep the sport going. We should never forget that. “There are many racing-related meetings each year by various groups, but the annual RCI conference is the only one where industry issues and potential solutions are discussed directly with the people who actually make and enforce the rules throughout North America and parts of the Caribbean. The regulatory standards determined at this meeting more often than not actually become the policy affecting everyone involved in racing.  The RCI members are the only truly independent arbiters of racing-related matters as designated by the various laws that have empowered them.” Other panels at the conference: “Drug Testing Forum: Are We Doing It Right? Are We Catching the Cheaters?” “Veterinarians: Racing Records and the Trust Issue” “The Adjudication System: Is there a Better Way?” “Policing the Backside: A View From the Front Line” “Regulating the Whip and Crop” “Promoting Racing - Putting our Best Foot Forward in a Storm of Negativity” Presentations include “The Challenge in Adapting New Technology and Opportunities to Statutory Limitations.” Meetings include: model-rules committee, drug testing standards, ARCI’s annual business meeting and board organizational sessions as well as the regulators’ Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing committees. Wednesday’s luncheon speaker features Bennett Liebman, Esq., the Albany Law School’s Government Lawyer-in-Residence, giving a talk entitled, “Confessions of a Recovering Racing Regulator.” The complete agenda and information about speakers can be found at http://bit.ly/2oGkAcj. Ed Martin, ARCI president

Summer nights on Caroline Street, where people gather for a vibrant night life, can easily get out of hand. That's why the Saratoga Springs police have added a new officer to the force. His name is Apollo and he has been hired to control the crowds on one of the city's rowdiest streets. The officer is a large standardbred horse. And while the rookie is well-schooled in pulling a sulky and running on the inside at the harness tracks, the chestnut recruit is about to learn a new set of skills at the equine police academy. "He needs to be desensitized to noise, gunfire, opening umbrellas, fireworks," said Aaron Moore, one of the mounted police officers who will accompany Apollo at the training academy in Rockland County. "He'll also learn formation and crowd control, things that are bread and butter for us." This week, he's learning the basics – getting used a saddle and a man on his back. Moore expects him to do well. "He's got such a great disposition," Moore said. "As soon as I saw him, I fell in love. He has a lot of learning to do, but he's gentle, a friend to all. I knew he was our guy." Apollo, who was named by a fifth-grade class at Division Street Elementary School, replaces the 23-year-old Jupiter, who retired after 14 years on the beat. He's being formally adopted by Moore and will remain stabled with King Tut, the police's other equine officer. "We are making arrangements for him to stay where he is now," said Sgt. Aaron Benware, head of the police's mounted unit. "He's has a really good bond with Tut. And even though Jupiter is retired, he's still a police officer. We are keeping him in the family." Jupiter, like all standardbreds, has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years. Apollo is 10 years old and 16.3 hands tall — a good size when controlling brash and boozy members of the public. His calm and friendly nature is also an asset in the crowd and with school children who he will regularly visit for pizza parties as part of his beat. The horses are excellent public relations ambassadors. "My main focus with the horses is not just crowd control," Benware said. "It's about making contact with the community. When one of the horses comes out, our involvement with the community goes up." As for Jupiter, who is also being stabled with Apollo, Benware says he's getting extra special care. "He's getting a lot of treats," Benware said. "He earned his retirement." By Wendy Liberatore Reprinted with permission of the lmtonline.com site

The harness racing race-fixing scandal has widened, with authorities identifying at least two more allegedly fixed races. Police will allege harness trainer-driver Bart Cockburn, 27, who was charged with four race-fixing offences, was involved in a fix in three separate races from November last year, all at Brisbane’s Albion Park. Cockburn was alleged to have participated in a fix on November 12 last year, when fellow driver-trainer Dayl March was also alleged to have been involved in an organised race result. March was charged with the race-fixing offence under the Queensland Criminal Code earlier in the week. It is understood while both March and Cockburn colluded to win the race on November 12, neither were able to pull off the alleged fix. The Sunday Mail understands Cockburn’s charges also relate to a November 5 race in which he drove the fourth-placed Marty Bee, and a January 27, 2017, race in which he came second on Major Kiwi. Authorities say the alleged fixing charges did not always mean the accused was attempting to win the race. Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett indicated there would be more charges to follow in the coming weeks as the investigation into the fixed races continues to evolve. “This is an emerging picture,” he said. “As we talk to more people and arrest more people, it will deepen our understanding of what is going on in the industry. “Other people will be interviewed and potentially charged in the coming days and weeks.” Part of the police investigation now and in the future will focus on betting activity that has accompanied the alleged fixing activity, where it may have occurred through either legal or illegal methods. Bart Cockburn placed 5th in the 2015-16 drivers’ premiership race, steering home 100 winners in his 676 starts. He amassed a total of more than $870,000 prize money for connections over the premiership season. By Trenton Akers Reprinted with permission of The Courier-Mail

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