Fourteen Defendants Back In Court For Arraignment On New Charges In Drug Doping Scheme
Fourteen defendants entered not guilty pleas Tuesday in an ongoing drug scheme case. The case was originally filed Feb. 26 and entered March 9. The original charges in the indictment resulted from a widespread, corrupt scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, performance-enhancing drug (PED) distributors and others, it says. They’re charged with manufacturing, distributing and receiving adulterated and misbranded PEDs, and with secretly administering those drugs to racehorses.
Two of those being charged are trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis. Servis was the original trainer of top Thoroughbred Maximum Security, the 2019 Kentucky Derby winner who was disqualified.
The Nov. 17 hearing and status conference was a superseding indictment, which added a charge of wire fraud against Servis, as well as veterinarians Alexander Chan and Kristian Rhein. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“Servis, Rhein, Chan and others created fraudulent veterinary bills that were sent to racehorse owners, including a racehorse owner in the Southern District of New York, which falsely billed owners for the undisclosed use of adulterated and misbranded drugs on the owners’ horses,” reads the indictment. It was filed in US District Court in the Southern District of New York on Nov. 5.
Veterinarian Seth Fishman has also been charged for “sentencing exposure implications.” His co-defendant Lisa Giannelli, is charged with using his veterinarian license to obtain prescription drugs, then selling them to customers without valid prescriptions. Fishman and Giannelli failed to stop their illegal conduct after being arrested and released in October 2019.
This report from 2019 tells more about EPO, or erythropoietin, one of the doping drugs in question.
DRUG DOPING CASE TO EXTEND WELL INTO 2021
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Nov. 17 hearing was held by telephone and only three of the fourteen defendants attended, including Servis. United States District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil set a Feb. 5, 2021 deadline for the filing of motions from the defense. These motions may be requests to dismiss the case in its entirety, or some of the five counts in the indictment.
Vyskocil then gave the prosecution until March 5 to respond to those motions. The defense has until March 26 to offer its reply. A May 14 status conference was scheduled in advance of a proposed May 24 deadline for other motions to determine if additional time is needed.
The Nov. 17 conference focused on the vast amount of evidence being produced by the government, and the defense’s ability to sort through it.
“The volume of discovery has been incredible,” said attorney Robert Baum, representing defendant Alexander Chan. “I’ve been a federal defender for 25 years in the Southern District and this is the greatest volume of discovery I’ve seen.”
Baum said defense attorneys were still waiting to receive evidence from Sept. 28 and Sept. 30 discovery productions. The reports indicate another eight terabytes of data and will increase the volume of evidence by 43 times.
Baum said that 33,571 audio recordings, 50,800 pages of line sheets, and 107,771 associated files had already been turned over to the defense.
“This is an incredible, time-consuming task,” Baum said about reviewing the evidence.
This is an ongoing investigation and developing story.