Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that defendant JASON SERVIS was sentenced to four years in prison today for his role in a years-long scheme in which horses trained by SERVIS were doped with approved and unapproved drugs designed to improve the performance of SERVIS’s racehorses, in connection with the charges filed in United States v. Navarro et al., 20 Cr. 160 (MKV). SERVIS was one of over 30 defendants charged in four separate cases in March 2020, each arising from this Office’s multi-year investigation of the abuse of racehorses through the use of performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs”).
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Today’s sentence sends a clear signal to those in the racehorse industry that no one is above the law. Endangering the welfare of animals for profit will not be tolerated. Illegally doping racehorses is a serious crime that will be met with a serious sentence.”
According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment, the Superseding Information charging SERVIS, prior charging instruments, other filings in this case, and statements during court proceedings:
The charges in the Navarro case arose from an investigation of widespread schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing. By evading PED prohibitions and deceiving regulators and horse racing officials, participants in these schemes sought to improve race performance and obtain prize money from racetracks throughout the United States and other countries, including in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Kentucky, and Saudi Arabia, all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses. Trainers who participated in the schemes, like SERVIS, stood to profit from the success of racehorses under their control by earning a share of their horses’ winnings and by improving their horses’ racing records, thereby yielding higher trainer fees and increasing the number of racehorses under their control.
SERVIS obtained hundreds of bottles of the drug “SGF-1000,” which was compounded and manufactured in unregistered facilities and contained growth factors that the defendant believed to be undetectable through regular drug screens. Virtually all the horses in SERVIS’s barn received that drug, including the thoroughbred racehorse “Maximum Security,” who crossed the finish line first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby. SGF-1000 was an intravenous drug promoted as, among other things, a vasodilator capable of promoting stamina, endurance, and lower heart rates in horses through the purported action of “growth factors.” SERVIS approved veterinary bills to racehorse owners that contained concealed charges for SGF-1000, which were falsely billed under the line item “Acupuncture & Chiropractic.” In September 2019, the New York State Gaming Commission released an advisory stating that SGF-1000 was prohibited under the racing rules and had been prohibited since 2012. SERVIS continued to allow the administration of that drug on the horses he trained up until his arrest in March 2020.
SERVIS-trained horses were also regularly administered the prescription drug “Clenbuterol” with no valid prescription, which was part of a deliberate effort to conceal that conduct from racing regulators and avoid mandatory reporting requirements.
SERVIS further obtained and transported a misbranded version of “Clenbuterol,” which he obtained from convicted co-defendant JORGE NAVARRO.
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In addition to the prison term, SERVIS, 65, of Jupiter, Florida, was sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to pay $311,760 in forfeiture, $163,932 in restitution, and a $30,000 fine.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation New York Field Office’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and its support of the Bureau’s Integrity in Sports and Gaming Initiative. Mr. Williams also thanked the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection for their assistance and expertise.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Mortazavi is in charge of the prosecution.