By T. D. Thornton
Six days before veterinarian Seth Fishman is to be sentenced for his two felony drug-supplying convictions in a decades-long international racehorse doping conspiracy, United States prosecutors told a judge he deserves a prison term greater than the 10 years recommended by federal probation officials, but below the maximum sentencing guideline of 20 years.
The feds also recommended that the judge not use convicted trainer Jorge Navarro's five-year sentence-the most severe among prison terms meted out so far in this conspiracy-as a measuring stick, because Fishman's criminal actions had a multiplying effect that caused exponential harm to racehorses, and he continued to peddle alleged performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) “until practically the eve” of his trial.
“[U]nlike the trainer-defendants charged and sentenced in this matter, Fishman's reach extended far beyond a single barn,” prosecutors stated in a July 5 sentencing submission filed in U.S. District Court (Southern District of New York).
“He supplied at least hundreds of trainers with his unsafe and illegal drugs. The breadth of the drugs the defendant offered for sale is unmatched by any other charged defendant in this action. The defendant was thus responsible for amplifying the disastrous effects of doping on racehorses in the industry. The defendant, under the guise of providing medically necessary veterinary care, enabled scores of corrupt trainers by selling unnecessary PEDs to enrich himself,” the filing stated.
Fishman undoubtedly tried to paint a different picture in his own sentencing submission that got filed June 27. But the public can't access that document, because his legal team asked for and received permission from the court to file it under seal.
Three days prior, on June 24, TDN reported that Fishman had to be hospitalized for psychiatric reasons during his trial earlier this year, thus explaining his cryptic absence during closing arguments. The presence of records related to his health could have been a reason the judge okayed shielding what is normally a public document.
The July 5 filing by the feds, however, shed some light on what Fishman wrote in his pre-sentencing filing, which is a convict's final chance to impress upon a judge that he doesn't deserve harsh punishment.
“It is unsurprising that the defendant's sentencing submission contains no expression of remorse or contrition,” the feds stated. “He likewise expresses no desire to reform. Even on the verge of sentencing, the defendant is entirely unrepentant for his crimes, and, absent a significant term of imprisonment, is at a high risk of recidivism.”
The government's report continued: “For almost two decades, including two years after his arrest in this matter, Seth Fishman cravenly pumped hundreds of thousands of illegal PEDs into the marketplace, and was dissuaded by no one–not state racing commissions, racetracks, the Food and Drug Administration, Customs and Border Protection, state drug regulators, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, nor this Court-to comply with the law.
“The defendant earned millions of dollars. He did so on the backs of racehorses that were doped by corrupt trainers. The defendant and his convicted co-conspirator, Lisa Giannelli, armed trainers motivated by greed with the means to corruptly win races by injecting and drenching racehorses with unsafe, medically unnecessary, prohibited PEDs.
“Fishman was not naïve or ignorant of the law. He did not 'exercise very poor judgment.' His crimes were not the product of a momentary lapse. Fishman was at the helm of a sophisticated, years-long, cross-border scheme to profit from the creation, marketing, sale, and distribution of illegal PEDs that he shipped across the country and around the world to unscrupulous trainers and others in the racehorse industry that sought to gain a competitive edge…” the filing stated.
“Over approximately 20 years, Fishman perpetuated the myth that he was operating as a legitimate veterinarian, conducting examinations, reaching diagnoses, and prescribing necessary medications for the treatment and prevention of bona fide medical issues.
“Yet Fishman did no such thing. He instead concocted novel PEDs, mass-produced his creations, and marketed and sold them to trainers across the country and around the world, resulting in millions of dollars of sales. He ran an illegal wholesale drug distribution business.