Former Vet Chan Imprisoned 30 Mos. for Role in Doping Ring



The former New York-based veterinarian Alexander Chan got sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Wednesday for his role in the wide-ranging 2020 racehorse doping conspiracy case. Back in December, he had cut a deal with prosecutors that involved pleading guilty to a single felony charge of drug adulteration and misbranding in exchange for two other felony counts against him being dropped.

Presentence reports filed by both the government and the defendant painted contrasting pictures of Chan's role. He was arrested in March 2020 as part of a series of coordinated law enforcement sweeps in the years-long federal investigation of a network of 31 horsemen, veterinarians, and equine pharmaceutical suppliers who ended up facing charges. Most of those who were accused are already behind bars.

In the view of the feds, Chan was described as “a former veterinarian for the New York Racing Association (NYRA), and a practicing veterinarian for over 15 years [who] abdicated his duty of responsibility to the horses under his care.

“After spending three years as a traveling veterinarian for NYRA, the defendant worked under convicted co-defendant Kristian Rhein at Empire Veterinary Group and soon after began providing and/or administering adulterated and misbranded drugs without valid prescriptions, knowing that their use violated New York's racing rules, medical ethics, and the law,” the prosecution's presentence report stated.

Chan's own presentence report filed by his legal team stated that, “Dr. Chan's sterling career and the beautiful young family it supported have since been destroyed because–at the direction of his boss and the owner of the veterinary practice in which he worked, Dr. Kristian Rhein–Dr. Chan participated in the distribution of misbranded substances for use on Thoroughbred racehorses.”

But, the report continued, “In contrast to Rhein and nearly every other defendant who reached a felony misbranding disposition, Dr. Chan had no financial interest in any adulterated or misbranded substance, nor in any company that manufactured, sold, or marketed any such substance. Nor did Dr. Chan receive any commissions, bonuses, or other benefits based on any amount of any substance that was sold, distributed, or administered.”

According to a trove of wiretap evidence (plus implicating testimony from plea-bargaining defendants who are already imprisoned) Klein and Chan's client list included co-defendant trainer Jason Servis, who is alleged to have doped almost all the horses under his control in early 2019.

As the lone remaining–and highest profile–defendant in the case, Servis is currently awaiting a July 26 sentencing after pleading guilty to one felony charge in his own plea bargain.

One of Servis' elixirs of choice was allegedly SGF-1000, the adulterated, misbranded and purportedly performance-enhancing drug.

Rhein, after being caught on a wiretap bragging that he sold “assloads” of  SGF-1000 to racehorse trainers, is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for his role in the drug conspiracy.

When Rhein pleaded guilty back in 2021, he had implicated both Servis and Chan by telling the judge, “I, along with Jason Servis, were leaders and organizers [of others who performed allegedly criminal actions], which included my associate, Dr. Alexander Chan.”

Chan however, has repeatedly denied that he ever directly administered any misbranded or banned substances to racehorses.

“Dr. Chan readily acknowledges that his conduct with respect to improperly distributing Clenbuterol and assisting Rhein in distributing SGF-1000 with the knowledge that Rhein and others were administering it was entirely wrong,” the defendant's presentence report stated. “But with candor to the Court, Dr. Chan did not administer SGF-1000 to any horses under his care.”

Federal prosecutors disagreed, writing in their presentence report that that assertion by Chan was a “falsity.” The report added that, “the Government brought to [Chan's] counsel's attention evidence and statements contradicting that notion [and the] Court should thus give no credence to Chan's passing argument that he never injected a horse with SGF-1000.”

Chan's legal team had asked for as sentence “of no more than 10 months' incarceration,” basing that upon “the same sentence the Court imposed on the almost identically situated veterinarian, Dr. Erica Garcia. Although Dr. Garcia was convicted of two misdemeanor misbranding offenses while Dr. Chan pleaded guilty to one felony misbranding offense, [their] offense conduct was highly similar…”

Prosecutors had urged the judge for a sentence “comparable” to the 30-month terms that were imposed on two other co-defendants, Rick Dane, Jr. (a harness racing trainer), and Michael Kegley, Jr. (the sales director for the company that sold SGF-1000).

In the end, Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil of United States District Court (Southern District of New York) ended up siding with the government's 30-month ballpark recommendation.

As part of his plea bargain, although Chan is not responsible for any restitution, he is jointly liable with Rhein for a $311,760 forfeiture obligation, which represents the value of “any and all drugs that were adulterated or misbranded when introduced into or while in interstate commerce or while held for sale,” according to court documents. Chan's portion of that obligation may be satisfied by him paying $50,000 within five years following his release from incarceration.

Chan is to report to his to-be-designated prison Sept. 25, and the judge stated in her orders that the facility is to be “close to New York City to facilitate family visits.”

Chan's presentence report detailed hardships that his family would likely face upon his imprisonment. While working as a Thoroughbred veterinarian in Dubai a number of years ago, Chan met and married a horse caretaker from Estonia. The couple later relocated to the United States, and they now have two sons, ages eight and two.

After his arrest, Chan had to give up his racetrack work. He found employment as a small-animal veterinarian for substantially lower pay, but had to surrender his license to practice six months ago when he pleaded guilty.

Chan's presentence report articulated a fear that his wife would not be able to support the family by herself living in the New York area, and that she would have to move back to Estonia with the boys to live with the help of her family.

“It is Dr. Chan's understanding that, under Estonian law, if he were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than one year, he would also be ineligible to immigrate to Estonia to reunite with his family there,” Chan's presentence report stated.

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