By T. D. Thornton
The veterinarian Seth Fishman–who is facing 20 years in prison, has an active motion asking for the first of his two convicted counts to be dismissed, and has already been granted one sentencing delay because he is allegedly having trouble filling out federal probation paperwork–again on Tuesday requested another delay of his sentencing.
The half-redacted letter motion filed by his attorney in United States District Court (Southern District of New York) on May 17 suggests that a COVID-19 outbreak where he is being detained at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn is the reason.
“Dr. Fishman's tier is currently in 'lockdown' status and, apparently, will remain in that position for the foreseeable future,” wrote attorney Maurice Sercarz.
Although the letter motion itself does not mention the pandemic in its unredacted portions, the internet home page for the prison features a prominent notice that “Operations are being modified at this facility due to COVID-19. All visiting at this facility has been suspended until further notice.”
Fishman was convicted Feb. 2 on two felony counts in an international equine performance-enhancing drug doping conspiracy. The judge in the case has yet to rule on Fishman's motion asking for the first of his two convicted counts to be dismissed on the basis that he was allegedly charged twice for the same crime.
Fishman's sentencing was supposed to be May 5 but got pushed back to May 26 when he claimed he did not receive financial forms from the feds that are necessary for his pre-sentencing report. Now he's requesting a new date in the range of June 20-24. Federal prosecutors have consented to this request, according to Tuesday's motion.
Although a number of defendants named in the wide-ranging racehorse doping conspiracy pleaded guilty prior to Fishman, he was the first from a federal sweep of several dozen individuals indicted in 2020 to stand trial and to be found guilty by a jury.
Fishman's case has been notable thus far because of the breadth of his legal maneuverings and some courtroom drama, which included the Florida-based veterinarian being inexplicably absent from court during his sentencing. A cryptic comment from Fishman's attorney to the judge during closing arguments led to speculation that Fishman had to be hospitalized.
In December 2021, the judge in Fishman's case modified his bail conditions after federal prosecutors alleged he was still selling PEDs while awaiting trial.
And in January 2022, one week before his trial was scheduled to start, Fishman had unsuccessfully asked the judge to delay the trial over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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