Federal Judge drops fraud charges against Thoroughbred trainer Webb

Horses jump out the gate at Penn National racecourse.

Cross-posted from The Blood-Horse

Samuel Webb, one of three trainers and four people facing federal fraud charges following arrests in November at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, had those charges dismissed June 5.

U.S. District Court Judge William Caldwell of the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed both counts of a federal indictment against Webb, saying the government’s allegations failed to meet the definitions of the two charges.

The decision appears to be a blow to law enforcement officials who argue that drugging horses violates federal laws because races are sent out for interstate wagering. The argument would be that fraud occurs when bettors are duped into wagering against horses running with illegal performance-enhancing drugs or on horses running on illegal performance-detracting drugs.

But in dismissing the charges, the court agreed with Webb’s argument that the government was attempting to “convert a misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law … into a federal crime.”

One detail that appears to be an important one in the Webb case is that the horse he allegedly injected or intended to inject with an illegal substance, Papaleo, never started as he was scratched by the stewards before his planned May 2, 2013 start at Penn National. This would have made it impossible for Webb to bet on or against his horse, or anyone else to wager on him.

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission suspended Webb for two months (June 10-Aug. 8) last year for possessing syringes on the backstretch. He was fined $500 for lying about the incident. Webb again was suspended Nov. 22 pending resolution of the federal charges.

Read full report »
Samuel Webb Indictment, PennLive.com »
Casino and racegoers speak up after arrests at Penn National Race Course, PennLive.com »

What a stellar character Webb is. Why does he still have a training license?

LMaris made this comment on The Blood-Horse report:
So the judiciary protects the cheats and animal abusers at the expense of the horses and betters. And some wonder why the sport is on its death bed here.

Although disappointed in the Judge’s ruling in the Webb case and no action has yet to be taken against the individuals in the Peta investigation, it helps our investigative teams immensely. Every investigation is vital no matter the outcome because it keeps the doping and abuses in the public eye. Learn more »

The Penn National case is not over.