No Charges in Neb. Probe of Horse Racing

From Associated Press

Atty. Gen. Robert Spire said today that a seven-month investigation into Nebraska horse racing "does not disclose any criminal violations by state Racing Commission officials or employees."

He said his office considers the case closed.

Spire specifically said the investigation had uncovered no improper conduct by Harry F. Farnham, former commission chairman.

He said the investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol "was careful, thorough and professional."

"The patrol report does not disclose any criminal violations by racing commission officials or employees," Spire said in a prepared statement.

"Therefore, I have concluded that no criminal charges against racing commission officials or employees are warranted. As a result, my office will take no further action."

Spire noted that during the investigation, "considerable publicity" was given to allegations against Farnham.

"As a result, I should comment upon this aspect of the investigation," Spire said. "The investigation has disclosed that Commissioner Farnham conducted himself appropriately in conformity with Nebraska law."

Gov. Kay Orr asked the attorney general's office in June to investigate allegations of "improper conduct of certain thoroughbred racing officials in the state."

Deputy Atty. Gen. Gene Crump said the office had initiated a probe of the allegations at least a month or two before Orr's request.

Sources familiar with the investigation told the Associated Press in July that as many as 12 state and county investigators were looking into allegations that racing officials wagered on horses, conspired to conceal improper activities and hid the true ownership of horses.

Dennis Lee, a commission member, said in August that as many as four active racing officials had been implicated as being hidden owners or knowing about hidden ownership of race horses in Nebraska.

On Aug. 4, Lee signed an order directing Ak-Sar-Ben racing secretary Larry Craft to turn over documents sought by the attorney general's office and the State Patrol.

Racing Commissioner Richard Hudson has been critical of Orr's decision to have the attorney general investigate the allegations of wrongdoing rather than allowing the commission to probe the matter.

He has said he does not expect to continue on the board after his term expires in the spring unless commissioners receive an apology for the violation of their autonomy.

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