SRIF national investigative fund launched to protect horse welfare, strengthen integrity

Columbus, OH – The Standardbred Racing Investigative Fund (SRIF) announced its formal launch on Tuesday (Sept. 29). SRIF is a 501(c)(3) corporation formed to fund expert investigations into matters concerning the health and welfare of horses in the harness racing industry, such as prohibited medication practices and fraudulent trainer listings.

“Independence and confidentiality must go hand-in-hand to generate a reliable investigative product. We took great care when planning to maximize these features, insulating the Oversight Committee within the organization. This, combined with the business model of outsourcing to top-level investigative firms, makes SRIF the first of its kind in racing,” stated Russell Williams, SRIF’s interim Secretary-Treasurer.

SRIF will eventually be registered to operate in all harness racing jurisdictions. The Oversight Committee will supervise investigations and report results from completed investigations to the racing commissions or other appropriate authorities. The Oversight Committee, comprising retired federal and state judges and prominent attorneys at the law firm of Saxton & Stump, has impressive credentials as well as extensive experience in regional and national criminal and fraud investigations.

Committee members include:

Hon. Lawrence F. Stengel (Ret.) is a shareholder with the law firm of Saxton & Stump and currently chairs their internal investigations practice. He is the former Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and has served as a special investigator for the NFL Concussion Settlement program and chair of the oversight committee for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Independent Reparation and Reconciliation program.

Kathleen Duffy Bruder, Esquire, is an attorney with the law firm of Saxton & Stump and chairs their regulatory and government affairs practice. Bruder is the former Deputy Chief of Staff for the Pennsylvania Office of the Governor under former Gov. Tom Corbett. She is a member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Civil Procedural Rules Committee and is experienced in representing issues important to the state racing industry associations.

Hon. Robert A. Graci (Ret.) is a former Chief Counsel to the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, a retired Superior Court Judge and the former Chief Deputy Attorney General who headed the criminal appeals and investigating grand jury section. He has extensive investigative experience working with law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal levels.

To see full bios on the three members of the Oversight Committee, click here.

SRIF’s initial funding comes from a $250,000 matching grant from Hanover Shoe Farms. Its initial officers and directors are Bridgette S. Jablonsky, VMD, Robert Boni, and Russell Williams. Several horsepersons’ associations have expressed their solid support, and SRIF expects to be well funded for the long term.

“The pending federal legislation includes nothing about investigative capability, so even if it becomes law, SRIF will be much needed,” Williams added.

Contributions can be sent to:

Standardbred Racing Investigative Fund
P.O. Box 339
Hanover, PA  17331

SRIF will maintain its own anonymous telephone tipline that cannot be accessed by any outside individual or organization. Information will go directly to the Oversight Committee. The SRIF tipline number will be published across all industry online journals once established.

Media Contacts:
Dan Leary, Director of Communications, USTA —

Jenna Wagner, VP Marketing and Development, Saxton & Stump —

Russell Williams, Interim Secretary-Treasurer, SRIF —

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