Late last week, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice handed former Standardbred horseman Derek Riesberry a sentence for fraud and attempted fraud. The sentence marked the end of a five-and-a-half-year legal process that stemmed from Riesberry’s illegal use of performance-enhancing substances in racehorses.
As an article by the Windsor Star explains, Riesberry was convicted of fraud over $5,000 and attempted fraud over $5,000.
Riesberry’s fraud over $5,000 conviction came from having injected a racehorse with a performance enhancer just prior to a pari-mutuel horse race. Riesberry has been handed a $2,500 fine for that offence.
Riesberry’s attempted fraud over $5,000 conviction stemmed from his intention to inject another horse with a performance enhancer before another pari-mutuel horse race six weeks later. Riesberry was caught before he was able to inject the horse, which was subsequently scratched from the race it was scheduled to race in. Riesberry has been handed a $1,250 fine for that offence.
In total, Riesberry has been fined $3,750. His licence is suspended and he has no intention of racing again, according to his lawyer Andrew Bradie.
The case was the first time a trainer was prosecuted criminally in Canada for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
A similar case involving Windsor trainer Chris Haskell, still presumed to be innocent, has been delayed while awaiting the outcome of Riesberry’s case.
“He’s been branded with the scarlet letter of a cheat, which is a terrible thing,” assistant Crown attorney Brian Manarin told the Windsor Star. “He’s going to have to do a lot of things to make amends for shooting up a horse with a performance-enhancing drug. It's a terrible thing to be found guilty of, but he's not public enemy No. 1. He's a person who made a serious error in judgement. He shouldn't go to jail for that, but he should get a criminal record, which is what he got."
To read the Windsor Star article in its entirety, which includes excerpts from Western Fair CEO Hugh Mitchell and Ontario Racing Commission CEO Jean Major's impact statements condemning the offence, click here.
(With files from Windsor Star)