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United States v. Webb

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 5, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SAMUEL WEBB, Defendant

Page 433

For Samuel Webb, Defendant: Terrence J. McGowan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Killian & Gephart, LLP, Harrisburg, PA.

For USA, Plaintiff: William A. Behe, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Harrisburg, PA.

OPINION

Page 434

MEMORANDUM

William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.

I. Introduction

Defendant, Samuel Webb, has been named in a two-count Indictment. Webb trained and raced horses at Penn National Racetrack, in Grantville, Pennsylvania. The government alleges that on May 2, 2013, Defendant was observed injecting, or preparing to inject, a horse which was to

Page 435

race that evening. Defendant was also allegedly in possession of loaded and unloaded syringes and numerous bottles of medications. The Track's races are simulcast to various locations inside and outside Pennsylvania. Off-track bets can be placed on them under a pari-mutuel betting system, which also uses the wires to collect information on bets made both in and out of state.

Count I of the Indictment charges Defendant with attempting to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § § 1349 and 1343. Count II charges Defendant with a Travel Act violation under 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a)(3), using the simulcast of the races to promote gambling involving the rigging of horse races, with rigging the races being an unlawful activity under Pennsylvania law.

Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss both counts of the Indictment under Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(3)(B) for failure to state an offense.[1]

II. Standard of Review

A defendant may rely on Rule 12(b)(3)(B) to challenge the sufficiency of the allegations in an indictment. See United States v. Vitillo, 490 F.3d 314, 320-21 (3d Cir. 2007). " [A]n indictment is facially sufficient if it '(1) contains the elements of the offense intended to be charged, (2) sufficiently apprises the defendant of what he must be prepared to meet, and (3) allows the defendant to show with accuracy to what extent he may plead a former acquittal or conviction in the event of a subsequent prosecution.'" United States v. Huet, 665 F.3d 588, 595 (3d Cir. 2012)(quoting Vitillo, 490 F.3d at 321). " [I]f an indictment fails to charge an essential element of the crime, it fails to state an offense." Huet, 665 F.3d at 595.

In ruling on the motion, " we need not blindly accept a recitation in general terms of the elements of the offense." Id. We must also look at the specific facts alleged in the indictment to see if an offense has been alleged. Id. We must accept those facts as true for the purpose of the motion, id. at 596, and we do not decide whether the government has sufficient evidence to prove its case. Id. at 595.

III. Background

In relevant part, the Indictment alleges as follows. " Penn National Racetrack is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to conduct live thoroughbred horse racing and to offer pari-mutuel wagering at its facility in Grantville, Pennsylvania." (Doc. 1, Indictment ¶ 4). The races " are simulcast to various other locations, including locations outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to allow off-track pari-mutuel wagering on these races." ( Id. ). " [O]n any given day," the simulcasts are sent " to approximately 116 locations" inside and outside Pennsylvania, including " sites outside of the United States." ( Id. ).

The simulcasting of the races permits bettors outside Pennsylvania to place bets on the races. ( Id. ΒΆ 2). It also permits the use of a pari-mutuel wagering system for bettors in several states ...


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