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4 Vets Accused of Drugging Racehorses

Prosecutors point to a long-running conspiracy at a Pennsylvania racetrack.

Horse racing began in the United States in the mid-1600s and took off as a sport in the 1800s.

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Four equine veterinarians are cooperating with federal prosecutors after the practitioners were charged with illegally administering drugs to thoroughbred racehorses at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa.

Their cases are part of a continuing investigation that also has ensnared three trainers and even the track’s official clocker.

The FBI reported that charges were filed March 26 against veterinarians Kevin Brophy, DVM, the owner of Abba Vet Supply in Wellington, Fla.; Chris Korte, DVM, of Pueblo, Colo.; Fernando Motta, DVM, of Lancaster, Pa.; and Renee Nodine, DVM, of Annville, Pa.

All four veterinarians agreed to plead guilty to charges that include administering drugs within 24 hours of races in which the horses were entered. The drugs were not under a valid prescription and were part of a race-rigging conspiracy, prosecutors said.

According to the FBI:

  • The veterinarians took drug orders from trainers, administered the medications and backdated billing records to avoid detection.
  • The four defendants submitted false veterinary treatment reports to the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission.
  • The false reports and backdated documents were designed “to further the conspiracy by concealing the illegal activity.”

The conspiracy defrauded other horse owners, trainers and race bettors, authorities stated. The alleged lawbreaking dated from as early as 1986 and ran through August 2014.

Details about the drugs used and how they affected the outcome of horse races were not released.

Each veterinarian faces up to two years in prison and a $200,000 fine if a judge approves the pleas, but each could get lesser punishment depending on their background and level of cooperation.

All four veterinarians are members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The organization’s president, G. Kent Carter, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, issued a statement saying AAEP was “disappointed to learn of the allegations.”

“Ethical practice is a necessary requirement in all aspects of veterinary medicine,” Dr. Carter said. “All veterinarians are expected to follow the American Veterinary Medical Association Code of Ethics, the ethics code of their state veterinary medical association, and all rules and regulations of horse racing that apply at the racetracks where practicing. 

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“The health and welfare of the horse can only be protected when veterinarians abide by the ethical code that we are bound to as part of veterinary medicine,” he added. “It is paramount that AAEP members and all veterinarians practicing at the racetrack adhere to the highest ethical standards in order to protect the racehorse and the integrity of the sport.”

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