Jockey Weight Fraud Case Dismissed… Judge dismisses Indictment
Monday, September 17, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007, Saratoga, New York, In a rebuke to former Attorney General Spitzer’s “Overweight Jockey” indictment, Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry Scarano has dismissed the Indictment in the middle of the Jury Trial against former Clerk of Scales Mario Sclafani and former Asst. Clerk of Scales Braulio Baeza. Judge Scarano specifically found that the scales used to weigh the Jockeys in Saratoga were not properly calibrated. With regard to the calibration of the Saratoga scales, the evidence presented was that the scale was calibrated up to 115 pounds. However, the weight of the Jockeys involved in the Indictment was above 115 pounds.
Judge Scarano said that “there is no evidence presented during the trial of any criminal acts or criminal conspiracy that occurred in Saratoga County”, and dismissed all charges involving the Saratoga race and dismissed all charges involving Belmont and Aqueduct in that there was no jurisdiction in Saratoga County for those charges. The entire Indictment was dismissed due to lack of evidence presented to the Saratoga County Court.
According to Defense Attorney Todd D. Greenberg, the prosecution against Sclafani was misguided and faulty in that investigators did not understand the rules with regard to the weight the horses should carry and that the evidence was simply not credible. Further, Greenberg stated there simply was no evidence of a criminal intent to defraud.
As the evidence unfolded during the trial, it became apparent that the Prosecution was in serious trouble. “The videos of the weighing process that were shown by the Prosecution had established everything the Defense had been saying: that the methodology by the investigators was terribly flawed and inaccurate”, stated Sclafani’s Attorney, Todd D. Greenberg of Forest Hills.
The Defense argued at trial that the Prosecution was flawed in that investigators did not understand the rules with regard to the weight that the horses should carry and that Sclafani and Baeza were victims of political circumstances wherein the New York Racing Association, itself under a Federal Fraud Indictment, handed them up as sacrificial lambs to the Attorney General to show compliance with a Deferred Prosecution Agreement for the purpose of showing its own worthiness of a new contract, i.e.: a new and improved NYRA. Indeed, in September 2005 the NYRA Federal Indictment was dismissed and within a week, Sclafani and Baeza were arrested on this Indictment.
Further, the Defense argued that the Rules under which the Clerk of the Scales operated were vague and unclear and custom is what guided the clerks’ judgment.
The politics behind the prosecution of Mario Sclafani, who witnesses described as an honest hard-working man of integrity, is disturbing.
Both Mario Sclafani and Braulio Baeza are ecstatic that it is clear that they have committed no crimes. According to Defense Attorney Todd D. Greenberg, the case, from its inception, is a clear example of prosecutorial over-reaching with the creation of a crime when none occurred. Early in the case, even a Grand Juror broke an oath of silence to publicly mock Spitzer’s charges as being politically motivated.
All 291 counts of the Indictment were dismissed. Both Mr. Sclafani and Mr. Baeza have suffered both emotional and financial hardship as a result of this false accusation and intend to pursue that issue further.
For more information, contact criminal defense attorney Todd D. Greenberg at 718-268-0400.