12th March 2020

27 charged with involvement in US horse doping ring

Twenty seven people have been charged in four indictments unsealed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Monday, relating to the administration of prohibited substances to racehorses both in the US and overseas. The indictments involve the use of customised performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) with names such as ‘snake venom’ and ‘red acid’, a DoJ statement reveals. An online marketplace was set up to sell he customised drugs, and the DoJ’s evidence appears to indicate that many horses may have died due to using the PEDs.

The first indictment alleges that Jorge Navarro administered ‘blood building’ drugs to XY Jet, which won the 2019 Golden Shaheen race in Dubai. In January, Navarro announced that XY Jet had died after a heart attack, the DoJ statement points out. The circumstances of the horse’s death are still being investigated.

The Navarro indictment involves 19 people. This includes Jason Servis, which the DoJ alleges doped Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, before being disqualified for interference. The indictment alleges that Servis worked with veterinarians to falsify prescriptions.

The second indictment relates to Louis Grasso, whose doping of a horse resulted in its October 2019 death. “I’ve seen that happen 20 times”, the veterinarian commented in an intercepted telephone call, reads the DoJ’s statement.

The third indictment involves Scott Robinson and Scott Magnini, which the DoJ alleges ran an online marketplace selling PEDs for racehorses. The DoJ lists a customer complaint that drugs sold by the pair administered to racehorses resulted in them not being able to walk for 36 hours afterwards, and this happened three times.

The fourth indictment involves Sarah Izkahi and Ashley Lebowitz, which the DoJ alleges distributed a blood booster sourced from a Mexican pharmaceutical company. It alleges that the blood booster was adulterated and misbranded, then distributed to horse trainers in and around the New York area.

“Unfortunately, our worst fears have been confirmed today and those who love sport and equine athletes should be outraged”, read a statement from Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). “This indictment shows that doping in horse racing is rampant and widespread, and the horse and betting public suffer the most”.

“There is no place in our sport for individuals who treat horses with disregard for their wellbeing, or who undermine the integrity of our competition for personal gain”, read a statement from Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA). “We support the effort to bring these charges to light and are hopeful that their swift adjudication will help assure other horse racing participants and the public at large that our sport will not condone or tolerate the behaviour alleged in the indictments”.

The tables below, published by the DoJ, lists the 27 people charged, as well as the maximum penalty available. 

Navarro Indictment

Count

Charge

Defendants

Max. Penalty

Count One Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

JORGE NAVARRO

ERICA GARCIA

MARCOS ZULUETA

MICHAEL TANNUZZO

GREGORY SKELTON

ROSS COHEN

SETH FISHMAN

CHRISTOPHER OAKES

NICHOLAS SURICK

5 years’ imprisonment.
Count Two Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

SETH FISHMAN

LISA GIANNELLI

JORDAN FISHMAN

RICK DANE JR.

5 years’ imprisonment.
Count Three Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

JASON SERVIS

KRISTIAN RHEIN

MICHAEL KEGLEY JR.

ALEXANDER CHAN

HENRY ARGUETA

JORGE NAVARRO

5 years’ imprisonment.
Count Four Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

NICHOLAS SURICK

REBECCA LINKE

CHRISTOPHER MARINO

5 years’ imprisonment.
Count Five Obstruction

18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(b)(3) & 2

 

NICHOLAS SURICK 20 years’ imprisonment.
Count Six Obstruction

18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(c) & 2

 

NICHOLAS SURICK 20 years’ imprisonment.

 

Grasso Indictment

Count

Charge

Defendants

Max. Penalty

Count One Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

LOUIS GRASSO

DONATO POLISENO

CONOR FLYNN

THOMAS GUIDO III

5 years’ imprisonment.

 

Robinson Indictment

Count

Charge

Defendants

Max. Penalty

Count One Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

 

SCOTT ROBINSON

SCOTT MANGINI

5 years’ imprisonment.
Count Two Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

 

SCOTT ROBINSON

 

5 years’ imprisonment.
Count One Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

 

SCOTT MANGINI 5 years’ imprisonment.

 

Izhaki Indictment

Count

Charge

Defendants

Max. Penalty

Count One Misbranding Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 371

 

SARAH IZHAKI

ASHLEY LEBOWITZ

5 years’ imprisonment.
Count Two Smuggling

18 U.S.C. §§ 545 & 2

SARAH IZHAKI 20 years’ imprisonment.

 

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