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FBI arrests 'jockey' in $2.5m fraud

AN AUSTRALIAN man who claimed to be a former champion jockey has been arrested in the United States and charged with a $2.5 million fraud.

AN AUSTRALIAN man who claimed to be a former champion jockey has been arrested in the United States and charged with a $2.5 million fraud.

Christopher James Woods, 52, was arrested by the FBI in Greenwich, Connecticut, and extradited to Los Angeles where he appeared in the US District Court.

In an affidavit to the court, FBI Special Agent Ty Thomas said Mr Woods (pictured) had used some of the money to pay $1 million off his American Express card. It is alleged the card was used to buy luxury goods, food, travel and entertainment.

The Sun-Herald has learnt that Chris Woods, as he is generally known, has for more than 30 years told people in Australia and overseas that he was a successful jockey and he had inside information on horse races.

In the early 1980s he told the Double Bay restaurant owner Tony Eustace there was a "sure thing" running at Murray Bridge in South Australia.

Mr Eustace, who was murdered in 1985 during the Sydney gang wars, gave $10,000 in cash to a friend called Frank Webb, who went to the race track where he met Mr Woods.

Mr Webb told The-Sun Herald last week he became suspicious when three other punters turned up, each with $10,000, to put on the "sure thing" at odds of about 4-1.

He said he declined to put Mr Eustace's money on the horse but the other punters went ahead. The horse did not win.

Mr Webb said he had had nothing to do with Mr Woods since then.

Special Agent Thomas's affidavit states that in mid-2007, Mr Woods's alleged co-conspirators, Henrik and Hamlet Sardariani, told the manager of a company called Bith, LLC, they were buying a hospital in Los Angeles County and needed $2.5 million to be placed into a secure account for 30 days.

Then, $1.9 million was transferred to Mr Woods's US bank account. The court heard more than $1 million was used to pay off Mr Woods's Amex card.

An FBI spokeswoman said Mr Woods had been arrested on August 23. He is due to reappear in court later this month.


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