A former jockey agent from New Jersey has been arrested and charged with 170 counts of second-degree tampering with a sports contest after, authorities said, he illegally accessed the New York Racing Association computer system in an attempt to get inside information to help him get horses for his horse-racing jockey client.
The jockey — or jockeys — represented by Manuel Gonzalez, 52, of Wyandotte Avenue in Oceanport, were not known.
The attorney for Gonzalez disputed the charges, saying Gonzalez voluntarily appeared in court Tuesday and entered a not guilty plea.
“Contrary to published reports, Mr. Gonzalez did not ‘hack’ into any computer system and we are confident that when all of the evidence is reviewed this will become abundantly clear,” said Brian J. Griffin of Foley Griffin LLP in Garden City.
The charges were announced by the Queens district attorney’s office on Tuesday, after an investigation by State Police. Gonzalez, who also is known by the first name Mike, was arraigned Monday in Queens District Court on a complaint also charging him with 170 counts of computer tampering. If convicted, he faces up to 4 years in prison.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, in a statement released Tuesday, said Gonzalez “illegally” accessed the NYRA system using login information and passwords of an NYRA employee — to whom he allegedly paid a fee of $100 a month in exchange for that access. Gonzalez then used information he got from the NYRA’s system, InCompass, information that included track conditions, the health of and injuries to specific race horses, and the identities of horses in need of a jockey, in an effort to secure horses for his client, Brown said.
The incidents occurred between Jan. 2, 2014, and April 1, 2015, Brown said, adding: “The defendant is accused of ‘hacking’ into the Racing Association’s computer system and illegally trolling for valuable racetrack-related data that he could use to his own advantage to secure horses for his jockey. In today’s computerized world, cyber break-ins are a growing threat and will be dealt with in an appropriate manner when uncovered.”
Officials said the investigation is continuing.