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Not guilty pleas have been entered for four men facing allegations of $30 million gaming fraud. The four are due back in Wellington District Court on October 8 for a review of the Serious Fraud Office charges against them. Name suppression was continued for one man but the other three are Paul Max, 58, of Nelson; former Harness Racing New Zealand chairman Patrick O'Brien, 80, of Blenheim; and his son Mike O'Brien. A total of 32 charges of obtaining benefits by deception were laid. Max, 58, faces 13 charges that together with Mike O'Brien he obtained venue licences by deception. The man whose name was suppressed  asked to be dealt with separately from the others. He had previously pleaded not guilty and not guilty pleas were entered for the others on Friday. The Serious Fraud Office laid charges in February after an investigation involving police and the Internal Affairs Department into gaming grants made by trusts since 2006. About 20 venues, including five pubs in Blenheim, five properties in Wellington, two in Hawke's Bay and one in Masterton, were investigated. Details of the charges include concealing from the secretary of Internal Affairs that ownership of companies had been transferred from Mike O'Brien to Paul Max, and concealing the influence Mike O'Brien had in the management of Bluegrass Trust to retain control of it. The charges related to gaming machines outside casinos, such as those found in pubs and clubs. The money from them can only be used for certain purposes. Reprinted with permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

A South Jersey harness racing trainer and cinematographer has been indicted on nine counts of animal cruelty, the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office announced Tuesday. The indictment comes after officers from the NJSPCA seized several horses and a goat from a South Harrison Township farm where Monica Thors, 55, of Mullica Hill, was planning to shoot a documentary about the care of harness racing horses. Thors, who has worked for decades in harness racing and horse photography, had to euthanize three horses in 2013 for chronic foot infections. Neighbors who complained to the NJSPCA said she had been excessively filing the animals' hooves — a claim Thors later denied when she contacted the South Jersey Times to discuss her case this spring. She had obtained permission from bankruptcy courts in May to have a veterinarian of her own choosing examine her horses, which are in state care, after successfully arguing that the animals were her way of making a living. However, she said was still having problems finding a vet to work with in the weeks that followed. In the meantime, Thors has argued in civil court that the condition of her horses has deteriorated while they were in state care. She said on Tuesday that she needed to consult with her attorney before discussing the matter any further. Thors acknowledged that her horses had chronic laminitis — an inflammatory condition that causes lameness — beginning in the fall of 2013, but said that she had been compassionately caring for them with some success when her seven horses and goat were seized in December 2014. Officials with the SPCA also said that her horses were overweight, and that Thors had failed to comply with recommendations to change their diet. She is charged with third-degree animal cruelty the deaths of four horses that had to be euthanized: According To Prince, a 7-year-old standardbred stallion; According To Hoyle, a 14-year-old standardbred stallion; Aspiration, a 7-year-old standardbred mare and Princess Grey, a 13-year-old standardbred mare. All of the horses were overweight and suffered from chronic laminitis. Thors also faces five counts of fourth-degree animal charges for allegedly "causing serious bodily injury, also by failure to provide care" to four more horses and a goat, all of which were also said to be overweight and suffering from hoof problems. Andy Polhamus Reprinted with the permission of NJ.Com - Check site here

New South Wale's racing codes are lining up to oppose any move to implement an independent regulatory authority in the state after an inquiry into the embattled Queensland greyhound racing industry recommended a similar model. Thoroughbred racing and harness racing officials are understood to be reluctant to consider such a template after the Queensland greyhound racing inquiry's commissioner Alan MacSporran, QC, was scathing in his criticism of Racing Queensland in the wake of the live baiting scandal. He has lobbied for an independent integrity model to be adopted north of the border. Fairfax Media understands the state government-triggered review into the NSW greyhound racing industry has discussed a similar framework to merge the integrity operations of all three jurisdictions under one umbrella. It potentially shapes as a back-to-the-future scenario in NSW after the harness racing and greyhound racing stewards worked under a failed government-controlled framework until its demerger in 2009. And thoroughbred racing and harness racing powerbrokers have just recently tabled strategic plans into their respective sports, with Harness Racing NSW only lodging their blueprint on Monday. Racing NSW published theirs late last year. They are believed to prefer the current system where NSW's thoroughbred, harness racing and greyhound racing control bodies are individually responsible for their own commercial and integrity units. Click on this link to read the full article written by Adam Pengilly on theage.com site 

Four men charged over gaming fraud to the tune of $30 million after a Serious Fraud Office investigation have been remanded for two months. Former chair of Harness Racing New Zealand Patrick O'Brien, his son Mike O'Brien and hospitality consultant Paul Max face 32 charge of obtaining benefits by deception. A fourth man, whose name was suppressed, pleaded not guilty and asked for a judge alone trial on two charges of obtaining by deception. Defence lawyer Bruce Squire QC for Michael O'Brien asked for the remand without plea and without electing trial.  He said there were several matters that still needed to be sorted out, including the defence being given all briefs of evidence. The Serious Fraud Office laid charges after an investigation involving police and the Internal Affairs Department into gaming grants made by the New Zealand Community Trust, Infinity and Bluegrass Trusts since 2006. About 20 venues including five pubs in Blenheim, five properties in Wellington, two in Hawke's Bay and one in Masterton were investigated. Wellington District Court judge Arthur Tompkins remanded them all on bail until July. Stuff.co.nz  

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association announced today it has retained the services of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau to conduct a variety of integrity services. "The USTA is committed to integrity in harness racing and working with the TRPB will provide our industry with a wide variety of investigative, security and analytical services from the most experienced and professional integrity services organization in horse racing," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. "We look forward to assisting and supporting the USTA's integrity initiatives in horse racing and wagering, and tapping our shared resources to better serve customers, participants, racetracks and regulators in the Standardbred industry," said TRPB Vice President J. Curtis Linnell. The TRPB will utilize its in-house resource database to provide investigative reports and intelligence on topics, organizations, vendors and people as requested by the USTA. The TRPB will also seek to expand and develop information relevant to the Standardbred industry. TRPB Senior Agent Douglas Murray, working out of the headquarters office in Fair Hill, Md., will be the primary contact for the USTA to coordinate research and information requested by the USTA. Murray will support the USTA's role in integrity issues, including allegations of illegal medications, the identification and investigation of suppliers of such, and involvement of organized crime in any aspect of Standardbred racing. Also, the TRPB Wagering Integrity Unit will consult with the USTA in the event of allegations of wagering integrity issues, including tote security lapses, alleged altered races, and possible betting malfeasance of any type. Among other services to be provided to the USTA, the TRPB will conduct due diligence and background examinations of selected associations and vendors in the pari-mutuel industry. The TRPB will include Standardbred matters of mutual concern in USTA's existing industry relationships in France, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, as well as throughout the U.S. and Canada. Located in Fair Hill, Md., the TRPB operates as a multi-jurisdictional investigative agency in the horse racing industry. The mandate is to expose and investigate all activity prejudicial to horse racing and to maintain public confidence in the sport. The USTA Communications Department   

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner (the Commissioner) are pleased to announce the signing of the Cooperation and Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Sydney today. AFP Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton and Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna signed the Cooperation and Information Exchange MOU at the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM) in Manly earlier today. AFP Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said the MoU formalises the cooperation between the AFP and the RIC and solidifies the strong ties between the two agencies. “The partnership will further the cooperation between the Commissioner and the AFP to support law enforcement activities and AFP investigations in regards to organised crime,” Deputy Commissioner Ashton said. The partnership underlines efforts to ensure the integrity of Victoria’s $2.8 billion racing industry, which employs approximately 60,000 people. “This agreement will be major benefit to both the AFP and the racing industry and will assist in the facilitation of sharing information between the two bodies,” Mr Perna said. “The MOU not only helps both agencies gather and share relevant information, but leads to increasing the public confidence in racing.” This MOU follows a recommendation made in the Commissioner’s 2012 Own Motion Inquiry into Race Fixing to identify the barriers to information sharing between police and racing bodies. The agreement will strengthen the cooperation between the participants, particularly with respect to information exchange, to assist law enforcement to achieve its objectives and reduce the threat posed by criminal infiltration of Australian borders.  Paul Stevens Manager Integrity Operations Level 27, 121 Exhibition Street Melbourne Victoria 3000 T: 03 8684 7775 F: 03 8684 7778 M: 0419 921 586 www.racingintegrity.vic.gov.au  

Well respected harness racing trainer/driver Peter Greig must have wondered weather all his bad luck had come at once when he had a night at Albion Park on Saturday night that he will never forget.   The Queensland Police raided Albion Park Raceway on Saturday night executing a search warrant for drugs on horse trainers and drivers.   When they came to Peter Greig in the stabling area, he objected to the widespread searching of bags and people and by all accounts was very close to being arrested at one point.   In the end the Police slapped Peter Grieg with an infringement notice for allegedly obstructing a sniffer dog from inspecting a bag.   A spokesman for Queensland police confirmed that no drugs were found during the extensive search and no arrests were made as a result of last nights operation.   Mr Farquharson defended the searches when spoken to last night.   “We have had several incidents in the recent  past where cocaine has been found so we want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” Mr Farquharson said.   If the night had started badly for Peter Grieg, it got worse in race 4, the $50,000 Autumn Staryers Cup where Peter was driving Major Moment for Grant Dixon.   Away well from barrier one on the 20 metres mark, Major Moment was making good progress through the strung out field when Swarovski who had can canned away from barrier one and run up the track a touch, came back down the track and collected Major Moment who was in full flight, tipping Peter Grieg out of the bike in spectacular fashion.   Peter was able to walk to the ambulance but at this time we have no further information as to how Peter is.   We here at Harnesslink wish Peter a speedy recovery safe in the knowledge that he has just used up all his bad luck for this year in one night.   Harnesslink Media 

Four veterinarians entered guilty pleas for their illegal doping of thoroughbred race horses at Penn National Race Track in Grantville, Pennsylvania. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Dr. Kevin Brophy, age 60, Florida, Dr. Fernando Motta, age 44, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Dr. Christopher Korte, age 43, Pueblo, Colorado, pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab in Harrisburg. Dr. Renee Nodine, age 52, Annville, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon. Each defendant is charged with allegedly administering drugs to horses within 24 hours of when the horse was entered to race. This conduct was in violation of the state law prohibiting the rigging of publicly exhibited contests and regulations prohibiting the administration of drugs to horses within 24 hours of when they are entered to race. Additionally, because the administering of the drugs was in violation of the state criminal laws, rules and regulations governing thoroughbred racing, they were not dispensed in the course of the defendants’ professional practice. At the guilty plea proceedings before Magistrate Judge Schwab, Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe explained that the drugs were not administered to treat the horses but to enhance the horses’ performance in the race or to give it an edge over other horses. According to Behe this constituted misbranding of the prescription animal drugs in violation of federal law. The alleged activity took place at various times beginning as early as 1986 and continuing up to August 2014. The Informations also allege that the defendants conspired with horse trainers, whose identities are “known to the United States”, to administer the drugs in violation of the laws, rules and regulations governing the conduct of thoroughbred racing. The guilty pleas this week were pursuant to plea agreements in which the defendants agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the United States in the continuing investigation. At the guilty plea proceedings Behe informed the court that cooperation by the defendants was an essential part of the plea agreement and that the defendants had already identified for the United States the many trainers with whom the defendants conspired with to illegally administer drugs to the horses. Behe identified for the court the drugs that were administered to include, among others, Kentucky Red, Carolina Gold, Bute, Dexamethasone, Banamine, Stop2, Estrogen, L-Arginine, and ACTH. According to the charges, trainers allegedly placed orders for drugs and the defendants, after administering the drugs, backdated the billing records to avoid detection. The defendants allegedly submitted false veterinarian treatment reports to the State Horse Racing Commission, omitting from those reports any reference to the drugs administered to horses at the track on race day. The filing of these reports and the backdating of billing records were, allegedly, to further the conspiracy by concealing the illegal activity. These acts 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 matter is being investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe is prosecuting the cases for the United States. Indictments and criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court. A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The maximum penalty in these cases under the federal statute is 2 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $200,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant. By Paul Smith Reprinted with permission of Fox43.com

An investigation, commenced by the Harness Racing Victoria Stewards’ Department, and continued by the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit of Victoria Police, culminated yesterday in Victoria Police advising that criminal charges have been issued against licenced harness racing trainers Shayne Cramp and Greg Cramp. Upon receiving this advice, HRV Stewards have invoked the provisions of Australian Rule of Harness Racing 183 and suspended the licences of Shayne and Greg Cramp with immediate effect. No horse trained or owned by Shayne or Greg Cramp is able to race or trial. HRV Stewards have ordered the scratching of all of Shayne Cramp’s runners engaged at the Mildura meeting tonight. Any change of trainer requests from owners who have been impacted by these events must be approved by HRV. Shayne and Mr Greg Cramp have also been excluded under ARHR 15(1)(e) from attending any harness racing racecourse. HRV CEO John Anderson said: “It is important that the tireless work of Integrity Manager Andy Rogers is recognised. He initiated this exercise almost a year ago and has maintained a confidential vigilance throughout. I also commend the Chairman of Stewards Neal Conder and his panel for their ongoing contribution to the investigation. “I also wish to acknowledge the extensive commitment, dedication and tireless efforts of the whole team at the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit led by Detective Sergeant Kieran Murnane.” HRV respect the matters are now before the court and will be limiting any further comment. Harness Racing Victoria

Ex-Harness Racing NZ boss says he set up trust at centre of allegations to help clubs starved of funding. A stalwart of the racing industry among those facing claims of a $30 million pokie fraud has spoken of the sport being starved of cash. Former Harness Racing NZ chairman Pat O'Brien, 82, told the Herald he set up the pokies trust at the centre of the allegations to get cash for race stakes and other purposes after funding dried up. "The taxes the government take out of it don't leave enough for the clubs to exist on," he said. Click here to read the full article written by David Fisher for the New Zealand Herald

Although rumours, and some facts, have already surfaced, names of the five Victorian harness racing participants arrested this morning cannot be released. Victoria Police confirmed raids were made on five properties during the early hours, with men arrested at each establishment. Two of the five – one from Merbein and another from Birdwoodton – have been charged, with the other three released pending further enquiries. The charged pair have been released on bail and are set to appear in the Mildura Magistrates’ Court on May 6. Even after being charged, the alleged offenders cannot be named until they appear in court. The five are alleged to have manipulated race odds and driving practices to achieve a desired outcome. After receiving information from Harness Racing Victoria, the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit and Mildura Crime Investigation Unit completed a year-long investigation before making the raids. A number of items, including documents, have been seized from the properties, with more charges expected to be laid by tomorrow morning. Speaking at a press conference, HRV chief executive John Anderson stated the raids were further indication corrupt behavior will not be accepted within the industry. “This is the first investigation of its kind that’s got to this outcome and has been a co-operative effort,” Anderson said. “It began with HRV commencing an investigation based on some information flowing through to a criminal investigation, so that’s a really strong statement for the harness racing industry that we’re prepared to go to those levels. “All credit to our officers and the police, who have kept it so tight from a confidentiality point of view, which is important in such an investigation.” Superintendent Peter Bringham is confident the alleged race fixing ring is confined to the Mildura region, which was echoed by Anderson. “It’s believed this is an isolated matter,” Bringham said. “It’s specifically focused on two races that were actually at Mildura. “Match and race fixing is a crime and the police will actively pursue to target and disrupt this crime right across the state.” “In the context in the size of the industry, this is only a very small part…but it does give us just a lever to have a look a bit further afield and see what else can be uncovered,” Anderson declared. “It’s confined for the Mildura region, so as it stands now, I don’t think it is wide spread.” If found guilty under various sections of the Crimes Act, the men face up to 10 years imprisonment. PAUL COURTS

Five men have been arrested in raids over race-fixing allegations in Victorian harness racing. Police hit properties in Merbein, Birdwoodton, Irymple, Mildura and Bolinda about 6.45am on Monday, seizing documents and other items. Superintendent Peter Brigham said the 10-month investigation involved owners, trainers and drivers. "Match or race fixing is a crime and police will actively work to target and disrupt it right across the state," Supt Brigham said on Monday. "It doesn't matter if it's happening at major events in Melbourne or events at our smallest country towns." A 29-year-old Merbein man, a Birdwoodton man, 57, a Bolinda man, 54, an Irymple man, 52, and a Mildura man, 34, were arrested and will be interviewed. Reprinted with permission of AAP

Victoria Police officers have raided the properties of top Australian harness racing figures over their alleged involvement in a race-fixing scandal. The Monday morning raids have targeted the racing operations of the Cramp family in Mildura. Shayne Cramp is one of the state's leading harness racing drivers, while both he and his father Greg also run a major training operation as well. Fairfax Media was to publish an investigation about the pair's links to suspect betting activities and alleged corruption a fortnight ago, but was requested by police to stall publication. The Fairfax Media investigation can reveal that Shayne and Greg Cramp are alleged to be involved in a suspected illegal betting syndicate that has been attempting to manipulate the outcome of races for several months. No other members of their family are alleged to be involved. Fairfax Media is seeking comment from the Cramp family. Click this link to read the full article written by Nick McKenzie Richard Baker Matt Taylor in The Sydney Morning Herald

The former chairman of Harness Racing New Zealand and members of a prominent horse racing family, Patrick O’Brien, along with his son, Michael, Nelson’s Paul Max and a former gaming inspector who could not be named, have all been issues summons on charges of fraud in one of the country’s largest gambling sector investigations. Called “Operation Chestnut ” the investigation was started back in June of 2012 according to the Serious Fraud Office, Department of Affairs and the police. The investigation alleges that more than $30 million in gaming grants were made by the New Zealand Community Trust, Infinity and Bluegrass Trusts, dating all the way back to 2006. Scheduled to appear in court in February, the four men could face at least 20 charges of obtaining by deception, which could carry up to seven years in jail. "If you don't think you've done anything wrong, it's a bloody shock to get a summons, said Patrick O’Brien. “I'll be defending the charges." Paul Max also said he would defend the charges against him. "It's before the courts so on that basis it's completely inappropriate for me to make any comment." Michael O'Brien said he had been instructed not to comment by his lawyers, but said the charges would be "vigorously defended". The trusts had its gaming license taken away earlier this year after the Gambling Commission found that it provided false and misleading information to Internal Affairs. Harnesslink media

The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) today launched an anonymous 0800 number for the racing industry to report integrity concerns. Based on the NZ Police Crimestoppers 0800 number, the 0800 RIU 123 Integrity line will gather information volunteered anonymously from industry participants, employees, punters and anyone with an interest in racing a proactive way to pass on information with guaranteed anonymity. The service will be run through the Crimestoppers operation. All calls are received by trained call takers. They record the information offered and the intelligence provided is then forwarded on to the RIU for investigation. As a new service based on anonymity the integrity line will add to the Racing Integrity Unit’s intelligence gathering. “The guarantee of absolute anonymity provides a way for people to feel safe about passing on what they know, so we are likely to receive information we haven’t had before and from people who in other circumstances would not normally come forward” says Neil Grimstone, Manager of Integrity Assurance for the Racing Integrity Unit. “There is no visibility or record of the phone number the call is being made from, so it cannot be traced back, however the caller is given the opportunity to leave contact details if they wish to be contacted further about the concerns they raise.” For any further information regarding the implementation of the 0800 RIU 123 Integrity line please email admin@riu.org.nz or call Neil Grimstone on 021 272 6009

Victoria Police and the Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner have agreed to a milestone partnership to help stamp out crime and consolidate racing’s integrity…including harness racing. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies will allow the exchange of information between parties. The partnership underlines efforts to ensure the integrity of Victoria’s $2.8billion racing industry, which employs nearly 58,000 people across the three codes. “This agreement will be of benefit to both Victoria Police and the racing industry and help inform investigations by both parties,” Mr Perna said.  “The MOU not only helps both agencies gather relevant information, but leads to increasing public confidence in racing.” The agreement builds on the RIC’s agreement in 2013 with the Australian Crime Commission. Both agreements follow a recommendation made in the RIC’s 2012 Own Motion Inquiry into Race Fixing to identify the barriers to information sharing between police and racing bodies. Under the agreement, there will remain some constraints on types of information that police are able to share, including telecommunication interception information. The agreement also builds on other Victoria Police initiatives such as the creation of the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit in February 2013 and the entering of an interim information sharing agreement with the RIC in June 2013. Mr Perna said the two MOU’s emphasise an increased focus on sports integrity which demonstrate Victoria’s commitment to protecting its sporting industry. “Together with an increased focus on sports integrity and the creation of recent legislation addressing corrupt conduct in sport (The Crimes Amendment (Integrity in Sports) Act 2013), Victoria is well placed to protect its sporting industry.” Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner

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