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A federal grand jury will begin hearing testimony Tuesday in Cin

February 17, 1985

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A federal grand jury will begin hearing testimony Tuesday in Cincinnati into a 3-year-old FBI ″sting″ investigation of possible race fixing at Midwestern horse tracks after running into two postponements last week in Columbus.

Not enough grand jurors from the U.S. Southern District of Ohio could make it to Columbus Wednesday and Thursday to start hearing the case, said a lawyer representing one of the persons subpoenaed to testify.

Representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s office will meet in Cincinnati Monday with attorneys for some of the more than 30 persons subpoenaed.

In the investigation, codenamed ″Stewball″ after a ballad about a horse of that name, the FBI worked into the sport’s inner circles by buying at least one thoroughbred and four standardbreds.

The probe has focused on thoroughbred tracks River Downs and Darby Downs in Ohio and Latonia in Kentucky and Lebanon Raceway, a harness plant just north of Cincinnati.

Tom Fugazzi, a Darby Downs vice president, said Saturday that no track officials have been subpoenaed.

Fugazzi said track was unable to meet an FBI request for videotapes of two October 1983 races, because the tapes are destroyed after a year. FBI agents did view a tape a 1984 race before issuing subpoenas to both harness and thoroughbred horsemen, jockeys and jockeys’ agents, he said.

″We haven’t heard from the FBI since then,″ he said.

The Darby Downs official revealed Ronaldo M. Lopez, 24, of Hialeah, Fla., one of those subpoenaed, was barred from riding at the central Ohio track during the 1984 fall meeting. Tony D’Amico, another jockey who pleaded guilty to drug charges in Cleveland this year, also was barred from Darby Downs, Fugazzi said.

″This is a black eye on racing,″ Fugazzi said, ″but we have been very cooperative with the FBI. We want this cleaned up.″

Michigan FBI gents also are investigating tracks in that state for possible violation of federal laws, but would not say if they have served any subpoenas.

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