OPELOUSAS, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police reported three jockeys face charges after allegedly holding back a horse favored to win as part of a suspected race-fixing scheme.
Troopers with the gaming enforcement division said Joseph Patin Jr., 46, of Opelousas; Billy Patin, 51, of Opelousas; and LeSean Conyers, 24, of Lafayette; were arrested on charges of willful pulling of the reins and cheating and swindling. They added the Patins were also taken into custody on warrants for the unnatural stimulation of horses (possession of electronic shocking device).
According to troopers, the trio knowingly schemed to hold back the horse picked as the favorite to win and allegedly had an agent to place "unusual" bets.
Authorities said the arrests were the result of an extensive investigation that started with a complaint to the Louisiana Racing Commission regarding a horse race at Evangeline Downs Race Track and Casino in Opelousas on June 19. Investigators said there were allegations that the suspects "engaged in questionable riding tactics that affected the outcome of the race."
"Troopers from our Gaming Enforcement Division worked closely with racing officials to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the allegations of race fixing at the Evangeline Downs Race Track," Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police, said in a written release. "Louisiana State Police remains committed to the regulation of gaming and the enforcement of criminal gambling laws to safeguard our citizens against corrupt and dishonest practices."
"Horseracing in Louisiana has been a prominent aspect of the state's sports history," Bob Wright, chairman of the Louisiana Racing Commission, stated in the release. "The Louisiana State Racing Commission is dedicated to the maintenance of a high quality sport and a fair playing field for its many pari-mutuel fans and an important economic industry. Any deviations from honest and truly competitive horseracing cannot be condoned and the Commission remains vigilant in its efforts to assure the highest standards possible."
Troopers added the additional charges against the Patins stemmed from evidence that reportedly showed they had hand-held shocking devices while riding in two separate races at the same track on July 4.