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Guilty Pleas in Race-Fixing Case

December 1, 2000

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Seven of nine defendants accused of fixing more than a dozen horse races at Penn National have agreed to plead guilty, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

The two horse owners and five jockeys could receive as much as five years in jail and $250,000 in fines each, said U.S. Attorney David M. Barasch.

The defendants agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to fix a sporting event in papers filed in U.S. District Court.

Authorities said horse owners George D. Berryhill and Neil McElwee paid bribes of as much as $1,000 to the jockeys, who were told to hold back favored horses.

Jockey Ramon Pena acted as the middleman in the scheme, prosecutors said. Fifteen races between January and May were targeted, they said.

Jockey Felix Pinero is scheduled for a trial in January after pleading innocent. Another jockey, Manuel F. Torres, was declared a fugitive after failing to appear in court.

The track is owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., which also owns the Pocono Downs harness racing track near Wilkes-Barre, 11 off-track betting facilities and Charles Town Races in West Virginia. The company also has two casinos in Mississippi and has agreed to buy a Louisiana riverboat casino.

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