1. Sports
Tote System Scandal Update

The toteboard lights up after longshot Volponi wins the Classic. Thanks to him, the fraudulent Pick Six wager was exposed.

Dateline: 11/23/02

It has been almost a month since the Breeders' Cup and the Breeders' Cup Pick Six scam case is progressing. Last week the three suspects turned themselves in to authorities. All entered pleas of not guilty and were released on $200,000 bail each. Last Wednesday morning the case changed dramatically when former Autotote employee Chris Harn entered a guilty plea to one count each of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to launder money in federal court. Harn was fired by Autotote on October 30th after an internal investigation.

The charges could bring a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine, but because he struck a deal with procecuting attorney James Comey of the Southern District of New York these terms will be greatly reduced. Sentencing is scheduled for February 19th.

In his guilty plea, he admitted to placing pick six and pick four bets through Catskill OTB using the accounts of his buddies Derrick Davis and Glen DaSilva then altering the tickets to make them winners. He made the bets using the touch-tone betting system that he helped design. He also admitted to printing fake tickets with the serial numbers of uncashed tickets which he found in the Autotote system. He gave these to Davis and DaSilva to cash at various tracks on the east coast, using automated machines to avoid any questions. The ticket amounts were small enough to not require IRS forms but ranged from a few hundred to several thousand dollars each. This scheme went on for about a year and netted enough to pay off Harn's car and house.

The other two defendants are due back in court on December 11th and while DaSilva's attorney would not comment on his strategy, Davis' attorney said his client "maintains his innocence, and we still intend to fight the charges." Harn's lawyer Daniel Conti said he "has accepted fully the responsibility for the crimes he has committed. He has asked me to express his deepest apologies to everyone who's been affected adversely."

Also on Wednesday, NTRA announced that they had hired former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani's Giuliani Partners to supervise the security and review process of the horse racing industry's electronic wagering systems. The review will include a systematic examination of certain wagers over the past year with the goal of identifying whether there are areas requiring additional security measures. Mayor Giuliani said, "Thousands of fans wager everyday on horseracing across the country and should be confident with the knowledge that their wagers are being handled in a secure fashion in an honest system. The NTRA should be applauded for its immediate response in rallying racing leaders to review the security of electronic wagering systems and to maintain the confidence of its consumers. I look forward to working with the leaders of the racing industry to develop new safeguards for one of America's most popular sports."

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Photo ©2002 Cindy Pierson Dulay, licensed to About.

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