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Pick Six Mastermind Harn Receives a Light Sentence

Times Staff Writer

Chris Harn, who masterminded the manipulation of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup pick six, was given a surprisingly light sentence Thursday in White Plains, N.Y., a year and a day in federal prison.

A former senior programmer for Autotote, which processes most of the wagers in thoroughbred racing, Harn had been expected to receive four to six years after pleading guilty to felony conspiracy and money-laundering charges late last year.

Citing Harn’s cooperation with federal authorities, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Brieant handed down the reduced sentence. Brieant said prosecutors probably would not have been able to make a case without Harn’s admission of guilt and his explanation of how he and former fraternity brothers Derrick Davis and Glen DaSilva were able to manipulate the Breeders’ Cup pick six and other pick six and pick four bets.

Davis was sentenced to three years and a month, DaSilva to two years. Davis’ sentence was the harshest, apparently because he opened a phone wagering account with the Catskill off-track betting facility specifically to make the fraudulent bet.

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A few weeks after the Breeders’ Cup had been run Oct. 26 at Arlington Park in suburban Chicago, Harn admitted having altered a $12 pick-six wager that had been placed by Davis through his telephone account with the Catskill off-track betting facility in New York. Taking advantage of a loophole in the system that is said to have since been closed, Harn fixed the ticket after four races had been run, singling the first four winners, then using all in the final two legs of the pick six.

High Chaparral, the prohibitive favorite, won the Breeders’ Cup Turf, then Volponi, a 43-1 outsider, shocked the world in the Classic. His upset victory went a long way in uncovering the scam.

An investigation was launched almost immediately after it was revealed that there were six winning tickets in the pick six -- because of the $12 increment of Davis’ bet -- and all had been purchased through Catskill OTB.

Harn, Davis and DaSilva surrendered to New York state police on Nov. 12.

“I realize I’ve hurt a great number of people,” Harn said to the judge. “Forgiveness is earned, not granted. I hope to pay my debt to society not with words, but by my future actions.”

DaSilva, who reportedly will undergo drug treatment while in prison, said he was “sorry for getting involved at this time.”

DaSilva and Davis both reportedly tested positive for cocaine at the time of their arrest.

After first proclaiming his innocence last year, saying he had handicapped all of the Breeders’ Cup pick-six winners, Davis threw himself unsuccessfully on the mercy of the court Thursday, saying, “I know I’ve done something extremely wrong.”

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After the trio had been sentenced, James Comey, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, authorized the release of the money due the rightful winners -- holders of the 78 tickets that had five of the six winners.

Arlington Park said it had begun contacting those winners. Considering the $4,606 already paid to those with consolations, the total worth of each ticket is $43,937.60. That includes $249.48 in interest for each ticket, less than $2 a day.

“Protecting our customers and ensuring that the rightful winners received payment has been our top priority from the start,” D.G. Van Clief Jr., the president of Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and vice chairman of the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn., said in a statement. “We can now resolve this matter permanently for our customers who have waited patiently.”

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Associated Press contributed to this report.


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