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Wednesday, November 20
Harn implicates co-defendants in betting scandal



WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A computer programmer admitted in court Wednesday he was the inside man for a series of betting scams on horses that culminated with a $3 million win from the Breeders' Cup last month.

Chris Harn
Chris Harn surrendering to authorities in White Plains, N.Y. on Nov. 12.
He also implicated his two co-defendants, who were his fraternity brothers in college.

Chris Harn, 29, of Newark, Del., told a federal judge he used his job at Autotote, which handles most of the nation's racetrack and off-track betting, to manipulate bets during races.

In pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering conspiracies, Harn said he used one co-defendant's Off Track Betting account to place a Pick Six bet on the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup "and later modified it so it would win.''

The wager -- six bets costing a total of $1,152 -- immediately drew the scrutiny of authorities because of its unusual nature. The $3 million was not paid, and an investigation was launched.

On a Pick Six wager, bettors try to select the winners in six consecutive races, but they usually choose different combinations to increase their chances of winning. The suspicious bet picked the same combination six times, selecting the winners in the first four races and every horse in the last two.

Because of a routine delay in reporting bets to the Arlington racetrack near Chicago, Harn was able to change the wager after the first four races to make sure the bet had the four winning horses, which included two long shots. That guaranteed winning tickets.

Now, all bettors who picked five of the six winners at the Breeders' Cup stand to earn more money. The racing commission in Illinois will determine how to redistribute the winnings.

Also Wednesday, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced that a consulting firm headed by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had been hired to review the industry's electronic wagering system.

"We have a great sport that is threatened by wrongdoing,'' NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said.

The NTRA has already introduced steps for improved security in electronic wagering at tracks nationwide.

Prosecutors compared the Breeders' Cup betting scam to "The Sting,'' the 1973 film in which con men played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford take advantage of a delay in the reporting of horse-racing results to dupe a wealthy crook.

Harn said he placed and manipulated similar bets on two earlier races to win more than $100,000 for the other co-defendant and found a way to duplicate and cash winning tickets worth tens of thousands of dollars that had gone temporarily unclaimed at tracks in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Harn was fired Oct. 30.

No mention was made in court of whether Harn will testify against co-defendants Derrick Davis, 29, of New York, and Glen DaSilva, 29, of Baltimore. The U.S. attorney's office would not comment.

Harn, DaSilva and Davis surrendered to the FBI last week and were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a prison term of up to five years. They were Tau Kappa Epsilon frat brothers at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

The crimes to which Harn admitted carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison but federal guidelines would probably make it a much shorter term. He remains free on a $200,000 bond pending sentencing Feb. 19.

While the big money from the Breeders' Cup was never paid out, Harn said in court that his share of the winnings from the earlier races was enough to pay off a $25,000 second mortgage on his home and a $6,500 car loan.

Harn would not talk outside the courtroom. His lawyer, Daniel Conti, said Harn "has accepted fully the responsibility for the crimes he has committed. He has asked me to express his deepest apologies to everyone who's been affected adversely.''

Lawyers for the co-defendants were unmoved.

DaSilva'a attorney, Ed Hayes, said Harn was the mastermind and getting him to implicate the others "is like getting John Gotti to testify against a busboy who's skimming tips.'' Hayes added, however, that he had discussions with prosecutors about a possible guilty plea for his client.

Steven Allen, the attorney for Davis, wouldn't comment on Harn's plea.

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