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Jockey pleads guilty to race fixing, says he fears for his life

July 30, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A jockey who pleaded guilty to race fixing claims he was associated with an ``unsavory person″ he learned was connected to another jockey found dead in the San Francisco Bay.

Now, jockey Richard Pfau says, he fears for his own life.

Pfau, 34, pleaded guilty Monday in a Los Angeles federal court to accepting $2,100 and a percentage of a ``pick six″ purse to rein in his mount Expresss in a Sept. 28, 1995, race at Los Alamitos Race Track.

He was charged with taking the money from Richard Sklar, 44, who was indicted for fixing that race and two others at Los Alamitos on the same day.

Sklar in turn has acknowledged he knew Ron Hansen, a top Northern California jockey found dead in the San Francisco Bay in January 1994, three months after disappearing from a hit-and-run crash on the San Mateo Bridge.

In 1990, Hansen was suspended in a race-fixing investigation, although later cleared by the California Horse Racing Board. Both Pfau and Hansen currently figure in an ongoing FBI and state probe into allegations that a ring of bettors rigged races at California race tracks, federal officials say.

Without naming either Sklar or Hansen, Pfau told U.S. District Judge William Rea that he feared for his life because he was associated with ``an unsavory person.″

That person in turn, he now knew, was associated with the dead jockey.

``They found him in the San Francisco Bay. That’s been on my mind. Thinking about that scares the heck out of me,″ Pfau told the judge.

``If I went to trial, that would give somebody more of a reason to do something to me.″

Pfau’s plea agreement is sealed, and federal prosecutor Ed Weiss said he could not discuss the links between Pfau, Sklar and Hansen.

``I am not at liberty to disclose the scope of the FBI investigation,″ Weiss said.

The California Horse Racing Board on Tuesday suspended Pfau’s racing license. While suspended, Pfau will not be allowed access to race tracks, training facilities and wagering facilities under the jurisdiction of the racing board. He can appeal the suspension.

The FBI and the state racing board have also been looking at accusations by Nevada gaming authorities that an August 1996 race at Bay Meadows in San Mateo was fixed to allow some bettors to win a Trifecta wager.

Sklar and Pfau could face up to five years in prison and fines of $250,000 for sports bribery. Pfau is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 20.

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