Two investigators for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stumbled upon a document-faking network last summer, leading to a six-month investigation now involving Louisville police and federal immigration officials.
The investigators, Don Kolioutas and Danny Hyland, began seeing fake racetrack licenses at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, said Marc Guilfoil, deputy executive director of the racing commission.
Real KHRC licenses have holograms on them to verify authenticity, and these holograms were just a bit off, Guilfoil said. Also, Guilfoil said, they were finding fake supporting documents, including possibly Guatemalan or Venezuelan passports.
Tracks require all workers in the barns, at betting windows and elsewhere to be licensed by the racing commission, which checks relevant documentation, including Social Security cards.
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The commission contacted Louisville police, who with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducted two searches in December, according to Louisville Metro Police Lt. Danny Assef of the fraud division.
Assef said investigators searched a convenience store on Preston Highway and a house on the south end of Louisville, where they found two fake ID labs. Assef said the labs, including a mobile one in a van, had been used to make fake resident alien cards, Social Security cards, driver's licenses and other forms of identification. He said four or five people were arrested on federal counterfeiting charges, and two illegal immigrants were detained and deported.
The U.S. attorney's office in Louisville could not be reached for comment after Tuesday's meeting of the racing commission, where the investigation was discussed.
Assef said the investigation was continuing and that the network appears to be statewide and involve more than just racetracks or horse farms.
"It's a larger organization than what we got," Assef said.