Former B.C. gaming inspector accused of supplying fake credentials to illegal track workers

Hours after immigration officials raided the stables at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver in August 2019, in search of illegal workers, Darren Scott Young allegedly received a message on his iPhone: “You didn’t get arrested today did you?”

A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer tasked with investigating the former B.C. Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch inspector would claim the text — from an unidentified acquaintance — indicated Young’s “culpability” in a scheme to provide Mexican nationals with the fake credentials they needed to work for local horse trainers.

The details are contained in a search warrant obtained by the CBC last week that lays out an investigation that has now resulted in 36 charges against Young, including accepting bribes and breach of trust.

According to the court documents, Young is suspected of paving the way for as many as 30 Mexican nationals to work as grooms for Canadian trainers without valid work permits.

He is accused of falsifying information on registration and licensing documents and substituting names and photos of illegal workers onto existing horse racing licenses to allow them access to the so-called “backstretch” of the track where horses are stabled.

From horse ‘owner’ to ‘groom’

Young is scheduled to appear in Vancouver provincial court on Thursday. The 46-year-old has yet to enter a plea to the charges, which were sworn last month.

The CBC has obtained orders for the production of gaming enforcement branch records, banking records and a search of electronic items seized from Young during the course of the investigation.

A racetrack worker is pictured at Hastings Racecourse in August 2019 after raids by immigration officials aimed at finding illegal workers. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The documents, written by CBSA criminal investigator Sheldon Tremblay, explain CBSA raids that led to immigration hearings where workers who were later deported claimed their permits had been issued by a government employee.

Anyone who works with horses at the track is considered a gaming worker and needs to submit an application to the gaming branch in order to obtain a horse racing license.

Foreign nationals must submit proof of authorization to work in Canada.

Young is alleged to have registered Mexicans who were in B.C. on tourist visas as “horse owners” — which would have made them exempt from the need to submit a work permit along with a licensing application.

Once the applications were approved, he then allegedly went back into the branch’s online system and changed the occupation of the Mexicans to “groom” — a designation that requires a work permit.

‘Getting kickbacks from trainers’

Young started working for the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in 2005, collecting a salary of $62,000 a year. Prior to working as a gaming inspector, he worked as a security guard at the track.

Tremblay claims the branch began investigating Young in October 2018 as “a result of a complaint alleging that a multitude of infractions were occurring at the Hastings Racecourse.”

The stables at Hastings Racecourse are known as the backstretch. In order to access the area, workers need a horse racing license. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

He cites an unnamed “confidential human source” who said there was “an ongoing problem with horse trainers illegally employing foreign nationals at the Hastings Racecourse.”

“It is common knowledge at the Hastings Racecourse that the horse trainers pay Young unknown sums of money to facilitate the fraudulent issuance of horse racing licenses to foreign nationals,” Tremblay quotes the source as saying.

“Young has been getting kickbacks from trainers for a long time for getting people horse racing licenses.”

‘I wondered about that too’

At the time of the raids, the general manager of Hastings Racecourse said the workers were supervised by horse owners and trainers, who are not affiliated with the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates the track.

During the course of the investigation, Tremblay identified 10 B.C. horse trainers who were employing Mexican nationals without the proper immigration authorization.

One of the trainers allegedly told Tremblay in an interview that her grooms said a man named “Darren” would take him and others to a lawyer to get proper documentation.

“‘Darren’ told me that there was a lawyer downtown that he knew of that did documentation or whatever in order to get proper credentials to be to get licensed at the track,” the trainer allegedly told Tremblay.

The trainer claimed the cost for each of her grooms was $695 for the lawyer’s fee and $30 for a racing license. The Mexican employees later reimbursed her the money.

According to the search warrant, Tremblay asked the trainer if she thought it was “suspicious” that the cheques to the lawyer had to be made out to cash.

“I wondered about that too,” the trainer said. “I did kind of think that was a little odd but he said it was just easier to do it that way.”

‘Take it and don’t ask questions’

Tremblay and another investigator interviewed Young at the CBSA’s Vancouver office in August 2019 after arresting him outside his New Westminster home.

According to the search warrant, he claimed that “anyone can submit an application as a ‘horse owner’ and would get a license without providing any additional information.”

“Regarding the applications for horse racing registration and licensing, Young stated, ‘I get the paperwork and send it off.’ He also stated that he is told to ‘take it and don’t ask questions and just send it off,'” the warrant says.

Young was released without conditions after the in-custody interview.

He could not be reached for comment.

None of the allegations against him have been proven in court.

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