Former jockey agent Manuel “Mike” Gonzalez will have to accept a $25,000 fine and a ten-year racing suspension that the New York State Gaming Commission handed down last year, a New York state appeals court ruled last Thursday.
Gonzalez had argued that the NYSGC’s regulator had overstepped their boundaries and he never received a fair chance to defend himself. But in Thursday’s ruling, the panel decided that he had, in fact, received a fair hearing, had received proper due process, and the fine and suspension were upheld.
Gonzalez was indicted in 2016 and pled guilty to “attempting to commit computer trespass.” The allegations state that Gonzales “hacked” the New York Racing Association’ computer system by paying an employee $100 a month to let him use NYRA passwords and log in to access restricted information. Gonzales would then try use this data to his advantage and look to connect available horses that needed his jockeys. Some of this information would consist of track conditions, pre-entries, workouts, thoroughbred statistics, health and injury reports and other non-public information.
He was charged with illegally accessing the NYRA’s computer system 170 times in a 15-month period, from Jan.2, 2014 to April 1, 2015.
In addition to Gonzalez arguing he didn’t receive a fair hearing, he appealed the 10-year license suspension, citing that the Gaming Commission couldn’t revoke his license because it had expired and therefore, he didn’t really have one for them to revoke. But the panel decided that the lapse didn’t matter because “the petitioners license expired by their own terms.” Gonzales will have to wait ten-years before he can even apply.
And Gonzalez wasn’t done arguing yet. He claimed he was also denied a fair hearing because the regulator had refused to let witnesses who would testify on his behalf from a conference line set up at Belmont Park. But the panel stated they already worked with Gonzalez to allow witnesses to call in testimony from two other locations, and they could always attend in person. They felt Gonzalez provided no relevant or new information as to why Belmont Park was needed as a call-in site. And, finally, the panel ruled that even though the sentence was harsher than the sanctions the regulator had handed out in the past for similar violations, the verdict would stand. “Considering all the circumstances, although the penalty was severe, we cannot conclude that it should be disturbed,” the panel said.
You can’t say Manuel Gonzalez didn’t go down without a fight.