Felony charges were filed against a veteran jockey this week amid allegations that he electrically shocked the horse he was riding during a recent race.
But the crime he's accused of isn't animal cruelty - at least not yet.
One day after Roman Chapa took first place for riding Quick Acceleration at the Richard King Stakes in Texas in January, a photograph from the finish line revealed that he had a two-barbed metal object concealed in his hand. Officials allege it was an illegal electrical device, and that Chapa used it to deliver a painful shock to the horse. The shock would allegedly have spurred the horse to run faster, allowing Chapa to win the race.
The Texas Racing Commission has since suspended Chapa, and the Harris County District Attorney's office has charged Chapa with possessing a "device or substance with the intent to influence or affect" a race.
Chapa could face 10 years in jail if convicted of this recent crime - but it could be longer if prosecutors decide to pursue additional changes.
Jeff McShan from the Harris County District Attorney's office told The Dodo that Chapa has not been charged with animal cruelty - in Texas, some forms are punishable by up to two years in prison - but added that prosecutors were going to look into it.
"They're going to take [the case] directly to a Grand Jury to decide if he should be indicted. If they find that it's probable cause and they want to add animal cruelty, they can certainly do that," he said.
This isn't the first time Chapa was caught being cruel to horses. As the Daily Racing Form reports, in 1994, he was suspended for using a nail on a horse; in 2007, he was suspended for using an electrical device; and, in 2012, he was fined $100 for whipping a horse in the face.
Chapa's mistreatment of animals extends beyond equines. In 2002, he served 10 days on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges for beating a dog.