N.J.'s view of crime clears rider to race here

Smarty Jones' jockey, Elliott, OK in Md. despite guilty pleas in 2 incidents

Preakness Stakes

May 13, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Racing officials in Maryland reaffirmed yesterday that Stewart Elliott, jockey of Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, could ride in the Preakness despite pleading guilty to a second offense in New Jersey.

On Saturday, the stewards, who enforce the rules of racing, cleared Elliott to ride in Maryland after revelations that he provided false information on his license applications in Maryland and Kentucky. Elliott had failed to disclose that he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after a fight in 2001 in New Jersey.

Yesterday, the stewards said a new revelation that Elliott pleaded guilty to a second offense in 2001 in New Jersey had no relevancy on his status in Maryland. The second offense was disclosed in a front-page story in yesterday's Asbury Park (N.J.) Press.

Elliott, 39, pleaded guilty to simple assault and criminal mischief in July 2001 after allegations that he punched his ex-girlfriend and tried to break down her front door, the paper reported. John J. Flynn, Elliott's lawyer, confirmed the report but said simple assault and criminal mischief are not classified as crimes in New Jersey.

Flynn said the Monmouth County prosecutor's office considered the charges and remanded them to municipal court as "disorderly persons offenses." New Jersey law states: "Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses are not crimes within the meaning of the Constitution of the State."

Because they are not classified as crimes, Flynn said, Elliott did not have to disclose them on his Maryland application. The Pimlico stewards agreed.

"The offense occurred in the state of New Jersey," said John J. Burke III, a steward. "The state of New Jersey does not classify it as a criminal offense. Therefore, he did not have to list it on his license application. He is good to go in Maryland."

Earlier, the stewards dealt with Elliott's falsified application by requesting that he file an amended application. They discussed it with him by telephone, and Maryland Racing Commission investigators looked into the matter, they said. They plan to meet with Elliott when he arrives tomorrow to ride at Pimlico, but they do not plan to penalize him, they said.

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