Four veterinarians pleaded guilty to federal charges this week for illegally administrating drugs to racehorses on race day at Penn National Race Track. The defendants’ guilty pleas are a part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors that could help authorities with their on-going investigation.
Charges were filed on March 26 against Kevin Brophy, DVM, the owner of Abba Vet Supply in Florida; Chris Korte, DVM, of Colorado; Fernando Motta, DVM, of Pennsylvania; and Renee Nodine, DVM, of Pennsylvania. The four pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully administer drugs to racehorses.
Assistant United States Attorney William Behe explained in court the drugs were not administered to treat the horses, but to enhance the horses’ performance in the race to give it an edge over other horses. Some of the drugs given to the horses included Kentucky Red, Carolina Gold, Bute, Dexamethasone, Banamine, Stop2, Estrogen, L-Arginine, and ACTH. According to Behe, this constituted misbranding of the prescription animal drugs, which is a violation of federal law.
Documents state the veterinarians took drug orders from trainers, administered the meds and backdated billing records to avoid detection. The defendants submitted false veterinary treatment reports to the state’s racing commission. The false reports and backdated documents were designed “to further the conspiracy by concealing the illegal activity,” prosecutors allege.
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 authorities the many trainers with whom the defendants conspired with to illegally administer drugs to the horses.
The conspiracy defrauded other horse owners and trainers with horses in the same races. It also defrauded race bettors from 1986 through August 2014, according to authorities.
Each veterinarian could face up to two-years in prison and a $200,000 fine. The defendants are scheduled for sentencing on July 21, 2015.