Classic Empire jockey Julien Leparoux, scheduled to ride in Saturday's Preakness, allegedly was defrauded by a former financial adviser, according to a federal indictment reportedly handed down this month in Lexington, Ky.
Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that Leon Smith, a former Kentucky men’s basketball team staff member, faces felony charges of transferring $14,000 from an account in Leparoux’s name in 2012 to one opened in the name of Smith’s management company. The U.S. Department of Justice reportedly also charges that Smith forged Leparoux’s signatures on two Internal Revenue Service tax refund checks and twice misappropriated the funds, in 2012 and 2013.
Approached Thursday at Churchill Downs, Leparoux, who reportedly is referred to in the federal indictment only by his initials, told Yahoo Sports, “I don’t want to talk about that.” Pressed about the indictment, he did not confirm or deny whether he was the “J.L.” mentioned therein. The 33-year-old French jockey has earnings of $5.6 million this year and rode Classic Empire in the Derby, where he was the morning-line favorite, to a fourth-place finish.
Smith reportedly faces 11 other felony counts of fraud for his business dealings with Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack and former Kentucky players Darius Miller and Josh Harrellson. Smith, who according to Yahoo Sports is charged with defrauding clients of nearly $1.3 million from 2011 to 2015, pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday in U.S. District Court in Lexington.