BROOKLYN (CN) – To garner publicity as he ran for governor, Eliot Spitzer conspired with The New York Racing Association in using fabricated evidence to indict two weigh-in officials, including Hall of Fame jockey Braulio Baeza, who were later cleared of all counts against them, say the two men in a Federal Court action for malicious prosecution.
Baeza and Mario Sclafani claim that after Spitzer reaped the publicity, and won the election, they were cleared of all 291 counts, and of dozens of counts in a superseding indictment.
According to the complaint: the NYRA was indicted on Dec. 3, 2003 on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and filing false statements. The NYRA stipulated facts and agreed to deferred prosecution on Dec. 10. The complaints were dismissed on Sept. 13, 2005.
On Sept. 21, NYRA clerk of the scales Sclafani and assistant clerk of the scales Baeza were indicted on 291 counts. They were charged with taking payoffs from jockeys to let them weigh in overweight, without reporting it.
Sclafani and Baeza claim, in this 38-page complaint, that state police investigators and investigators from Spitzer’s Attorney General’s Office fabricated evidence and withheld exculpating evidence. Specifically, the five jockeys who allegedly paid off the plaintiffs to ride overweight denied it. The defendants claimed Sclafani and Baeza let jockeys ride overweight, though it is common knowledge – and the defendants knew – that at the post-race weigh-in, the jockeys are weighed down with mud and equipment. What’s more, the scales are not calibrated to record the alleged overweight that the plaintiffs were charged with ignoring.
Sclafani and Baeza say they lost their jobs and their reputations, and that the defendants secured the superseding indictments knowing of the falsity of the charges, some of which were dismissed before trial, and the rest of which were dismissed by Saratoga County Judge Jerry Scarano on Sept. 17, 2007.
Sclafani and Baeza, who sued Spitzer as an individual, demand $100 million for conspiracy, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, constitutional violations and false arrest.
They are represented by Todd Greenberg of Forest Hills and Paul DerOhannesian of Albany.