Indictments charge 27 in systematic racehorse doping enterprise

By: THA

Posted: March 10, 2020

Multiple federal and state agencies March 9 unsealed four indictments that charge 27 individuals with administering illegal medications to racehorses as well as arranging for shipment of the substances.

Nineteen of the defendants, including Thoroughbred trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, have been charged in one indictment that details “four conspiracies to manufacture, distribute, and administer adulterated or misbranded drugs,” according to a release from the office of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Veterinarians, distributors and other trainers, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred, are named in the four indictments.

The announcement was made by Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; William Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department; Catherine Hermsen, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Assistant Commissioner for Criminal Investigations; and Troy Miller, Director of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in New York.

“Today’s unsealing of four indictments for widespread doping of racehorses is the largest ever of its kind from the Department of Justice,” Berman said. “These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money. And it was the racehorses that paid the price for the defendants’ greed. The care and respect due to the animals competing, as well as the integrity of racing, are matters of deep concern to the people of this district and to this office.”

“The FDA is responsible for protecting not only the health of humans, but also of animals,” Hermsen said. “The manufacturing and trafficking of misbranded and unapproved animal drugs, and the administering of such drugs to racehorses to enhance their performance at the track, seriously endangers the health of these animals in pursuit of financial gain. Today’s announcement should serve as a reminder of our continued focus on those individuals and companies that put profits ahead of the public health.”

The release states that the charges contained in the indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The four indictments are available here:

“Navarro indictment”

“Robinson indictment”

“Grasso indictment”

“Izhaki indictment”

DRF: Indications are investigation is ongoing

(Geoffrey Berman photo courtesy of justice.gov)