Federal prosecutors handed down superseding indictments Tuesday in the alleged horse doping scandal involving trainers Jason Servis, Jorge Navarro, and 12 other defendants. The new indictments tack on a charge of wire fraud to Servis and veterinarians Alexander Chan and Kristian Rhein.
All three pleaded not guilty to the new charges. Those came in an indictment filed Nov. 5 that supersedes the original Feb. 26 indictment entered on March 9. The three and Navarro were among 27 individuals named in that March indictment, charged with working to “manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses …” according to the original indictment.
The original charges bring a maximum of five years in prison. The new charges against Servis, Rhein, and Chan come with up to 20 years, along with financial forfeiture penalties. Navarro won’t face additional charges as of now. He’s currently accused of two counts of drug adulteration and misbranding.
Prosecutors filed the new indictment in US District Court in the Southern District of New York. It alleges “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.”
More Indictments Possible as Trial Date Recedes Into 2021
Because all 14 defendants entered not guilty pleas during a Tuesday arraignment conference call with US District Judge Mary Kay Vykoscil, the cases will go to trial sometime next year. The case remains in the discovery phase and Assistant US Attorney Andrew Adams didn’t rule out further superseding indictments over the next several months.
“We are under no obligation to answer that question,” Adams said on the call.
Aside from the arraignments, much of the call centered on the discovery process, the government’s massive volume of evidence, and the defense’s ability to process all of it. Chan’s attorney, Robert Baum, said this is the “greatest volume of discovery I’ve seen” in his 25 years as a defense attorney in the Southern District.
Evidence Piling Up Against Servis, Others
Defense attorneys have already parsed through 33,571 audio recordings, 50,800 pages of line sheets, and 107,771 associated files. Additional Sept. 28 and Sept. 30 discovery dumps remain and may add another eight terabytes of data to the already voluminous stack.
Meanwhile, Adams said more evidence is forthcoming. He cited nine electronic devices with either corrupted files or secure passwords that could join the evidence pile if, or when, those technical issues are fixed.
Vyskocil gave defense attorneys until Feb. 5 to file motions to dismiss. She set a March 5 date for prosecutors to respond to those motions, and a March 26 date for the defense to answer. At this pace, hearings and pre-trial motions won’t happen earlier than July.
Among the 14 defendants, only Servis, Seth Fishman, Rick Dane Jr., and Rebecca Linke were on the call. They, Navarro, and eight others are charged with drug adulteration and misbranding, in some cases, going back to 2018.
Maximum Security Put Servis Front and Center
Fishman, a veterinarian, is charged in the superseding indictment with continuing to participate in illegal activity after his arrest and subsequent release on bail in Oct. 2019. This means Fishman could be subject to additional penalties if found guilty. He’s charged with letting co-defendant Lisa Giannelli use his veterinarian’s license to obtain drugs for sale without a valid prescription.
The case began in early March, with 27 people accused of horse doping, drug adulteration, and misbranding. As the trainer of Maximum Security, just coming off a career-defining win in the $20 million Saudi Cup, Servis was the face of this case. After the indictments came down, Maximum Security’s owners, Gary and Mary West, moved Maximum Security to Bob Baffert’s California barn.
As of now, Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia officials have not released Maximum Security’s winner’s share of $10 million from that race, pending an investigation. The standout 4-year-old retired to stud last week after finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7.
That was the biggest domino in an exodus of horses from Servis’ and Navarro’s barns. All of the defendants remain free on bail.