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Betting scam reaches beyond Pick Six

Nov 26, 2002 4:29 AM

   To quote that well-known philosopher Yogi Berra, for Autotote the recent Pick Six scam was “deja vue all over again.”

   The company, whose parent is the publicly-traded Scientific Games Inc. (SGMS), acknowledged over the weekend that an employee was caught three years ago redeeming counterfeit tickets at Delaware Park. He reportedly was caught in the track’s tote room trying to validate a counterfeit ticket in a supervisor’s office.

   Oddly, the incident, which ended in the terminated employee making restitution, was never reported by track officials to the Delaware Racing Commission. Obviously, the announcement has triggered a state investigation.

   The announcement came on the heels of an admission by chief Breeder’s Cup Pick Six scammer, Chris Harn, that as a key Autotote employee,he had been involved in “re-creating” uncashed winning tickets and having his Breeder’s Cup Ultra Pick Six scam associates, Glen DaSilva and Derrick Davis, insert the phonies into stand alone automated betting machines at various racetracks for cashing.

   Exactly how many counterfeits were cashed was unknown, although Harn admitted the practice had been going on for at least a year.

   The three scammers, all fraternity brothers at Drexell University in the mid-nineties, have been charged with wire fraud and money laundering because of their alleged activities in manipulating the selections of a Ultra Pick Six ticket after the first four Breeder’s Cup races had been run in order to generate a winning ticket. Because of the longshots that won, the scammers ended up with the only winning ticket. The ticket which was never cashed would have been worth more than $3 million.

   The ticket was purchased by Davis who had established a telephone account with the Catskills Off-Track Betting system. Complicating the initial investigation was the failure of the OTB company to invest in a recording system that would have immediately identified Davis’ original selections.

   Since the wagers were commingled with the race pools at Arlington International near Chicago, Ill., the Illinois Racing Commission put a hold on the money that would have been paid to the Pick Six winner or winners. Those who had selected five of the six winners received a consolation payment of $4,606.20. It’s expected that when the money is released by state officials, and the federal investigators who have taken control of the probe, the consolation winners, using their W2G tax forms for identification, will receive an additional $34,000.

   Meanwhile, the entire industry has moved to help restore integrity in the manner in which wagers are made and properly recorded. The Autotote company said it had taken steps to prohibit employees from having access to the manipulate the selections and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has hired to former N.Y. mayor Rudolph Giuliani to review large payoffs made by tracks around the country.

   So far, according to investigators, only Harn, the ringleader, has admitted his role in the betting scams. He also expanded his admissions by identifying his role in counterfeiting tickets. His alleged associates reportedly are maintaining their innocence.