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Harness racing group disciplines fraud defendant

In a disciplinary move that effectively freezes a multimillion dollar horse racing empire linked to former body armor maker David Brooks, the major U.S. harness racing association says it has suspended transfers of all racehorses owned by his family.

Federal investigators are looking into whether the former owner of Westbury-based DHB Enterprises illicitly transferred horse ownership to his brother and other family members.

Brooks is under court order to produce all assets in connection with his federal court trial in Central Islip. He is charged with spending millions of company money on himself, including a diamond-encrusted belt buckle.

The Brooks family stable, nominally owned by the businessman's brother Jeffrey, has dozens of horses running hundreds of races in the United States and Canada.

Last year at a single Canadian racetrack, horses at Mohawk, Bulletproof, one of Brooks' many stables, had 323 starts, winning 54 races and nearly $3 million in purses.

Bulletproof's three-year-old If I Can Dream last year was ranked No. 3 in the United States in terms of winnings, taking in $1.7 million and winning 12 races including the Messenger Stakes at the Yonkers Raceway.

The U.S. harness racing association's move comes on the heels of a similar sanction by the Ontario Racing Commission.

"The USTA has, in recent months, been approached by several regulatory agencies seeking information regarding the Standardbred ownership and industry participation of Bulletproof Enterprises, David Brooks, and Jeffrey Brooks, among others," the group said in a statement.

"The association has readily cooperated in each instance and will continue to do so."

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