June 6, 2006
By Pete Denk
A new grand jury has reaffirmed a 291 count indictment against former New York Racing Association Clerk of Scales Mario Sclafani and Assistant Clerk of Scales Braulio Baeza for allegedly falsifying records and allowing jockeys to ride overweight in 2004.
Sclafani and Baeza, a former jockey and member of the Racing Hall of Fame, were indicted last September but prosecutors re-filed the indictment last month after one of the original grand jurors wrote a letter to newspapers and public officials attacking the case.
"The prosecutors have the authority to supersede an original indictment if there is any question about the grand jury process," said Paul Larabee, spokesman for New York Attorney General and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer. "A grand juror came forward after the first indictment and expressed concerns publicly, so we elected to supersede the indictment in the form of a separate and new grand jury, and it returned the same 291 count indictment against both [Sclafani and Baeza]."
According to the charges, Sclafani and Baeza allowed jockeys to ride as much as 15 pounds over their assigned weights. The jockeys were not charged.
Sclafani and Baeza have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The attorneys in the case are schedule for a conference on June 29.
"We stand prepared to go to trial and are ready to move forward," Larabee said.