Government Says Servis Wiretaps Legit

Jason Servis | Saudi Arabian Jockey Club photo

United States Attorneys have filed an opposing motion to deny barred trainer Jason Servis and his fellow defendants' motions to suppress the wiretaps placed on their cell phones, along with the seized physical and electronic evidence from a search of veterinarian Seth Fishman's belongings.

The opposing motion was filed Sept. 2nd in the Southern District of New York by U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, who writes, “the defendants' motions are entirely without merit and should be denied in full.”

On Aug. 3, lawyers representing Servis filed a motion to have evidence against him that was obtained through wiretaps thrown out. Attorneys Rita Glavin and Michael Considine charged that the government obtained authorization from a court to tap into Servis's phone based on a sworn affidavit from an FBI agent that, they contend, “contained deliberately or recklessly false statements and the material omission of statutorily and constitutionally required information.”

The Servis legal team argued that the wiretap evidence should be thrown out because using it represents a violation of Servis's Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment reads, in part: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

But the government argues in its opposing motion that law enforcement was led to Servis through an earlier investigation of now-barred Standardbred trainer Nick Surick, of whom they say the ruled-off Thoroughbred trainer Jorge Navarro was his “doping mentor.”

Navarro on Aug. 11 cut a deal with federal prosecutors in which he pled guilty to one count in the years-long Thoroughbred doping conspiracy in exchange for having a similar second count against him dismissed.

“This case arose from an investigation into overlapping and widespread schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, drug distributors, and others to obtain money through lies, deceit, and active concealment of sophisticated doping of racehorses through the use of purportedly `untestable' drugs,” the filing states, adding that the investigation revealed ample evidence of Surick and Navarro's efforts to “obtain, share, distribute, discuss, use, and conceal various  performance-enhancing drugs that they each intended to be, and believed to be, untestable by racing authorities.”

The facts uncovered in that investigation, the filing states, “informed the application for the initial wiretap of Navarro's cellphone and those of Navarro's co-conspirators,” including Servis.

“Initial and renewal interceptions over the Navarro Phone indicated that: (1) Servis was actively assisting Navarro to conceal Navarro's doping practices by `tipping off' Navarro to the presence of racetrack officials; (2) Navarro was willing to confide in Servis regarding his own doping practices and about his own corrupt relationship with an unnamed racetrack security official; (3) Navarro believed that Servis had his own corrupt relationship with a racetrack security official; and (4) Servis further participated in Navarro's doping scheme as a recipient of an unspecified, “[ir]regular” version of Clenbuterol, which Servis wished to obtain after assuring himself that regulators were not scrutinizing the Servis operation too closely,” the government filing argues.

“The scheme being investigated was exceedingly complex,” the filing states. “There were ample intercepted conversations indicating that the drugs distributed amongst a number of the Target Subjects by design would not be on drug tests.”

One such intercepted conversation allegedly occurred on Jan. 25, 2019, between Navarro and another defendant, the now-barred harness trainer Christopher Oakes. Oakes had allegedly created his own customized “drench” by which performance-enhancing drugs [PEDs] were forced directly into a horse's stomach through a tube inserted via the nostril.

In that wiretapped call, Navarro allegedly discussed “this crazy [expletive] Seth [Fishman]” with Oakes, describing an injectable drug that Fishman had allegedly sent to Navarro in 2018: “He sent me something with amino acid right last year. And I [expletive] gave it to this horse. This [expletive] galloped. Galloped.”

Navarro then allegedly asked Oakes for help in obtaining more of that that drug, or another that Navarro could use. Oakes purportedly offered up a different untestable PED that he had developed, allegedly explaining that “this drench I got dude, they can test you all day, night, before, after. [This drench] has got a ton of those branch chain amino acids in it [and there is] zero chance you get caught, [even when administered on] race day.”

Separately, in a Feb. 21, 2019, intercepted call between Fishman and an unnamed racetrack customer, the customer (with no reference to treating a horse for a medical condition) allegedly asked for a blood builder offered by Fishman called BB3.

Fishman later on that call allegedly stated that “building blood is not cheap” because it is “the holy grail [PED] of sports.” Fishman allegedly assured the customer that the blood builder he offered would not test positive, even a few hours after it had been administered.

The government's opposing motion continued: “This discussion, entirely ignored in the Fishman Motion, further underscores that Seth Fishman was not creating and selling substances to comply with applicable racing rules and regulations, but to evade drug testing that would reveal a violation of such rules. Through that evasion, Fishman and his clients attempted to falsely present their horses as eligible to participate in lucrative races, knowing that this was false…”

“Even assuming that drug testing had been widely pursued, drug testing alone would not have revealed the scope of which (untestable) drugs were at issue, which trainers were purchasing drugs from Seth Fishman, or when these trainers were administering these drugs to racehorses in advance of races.

“Indiscriminate drug testing of various racehorses at various times in the hopes of yielding a positive test (ignoring for the moment that the drugs being administered were designed to be undetectable on drug tests) is not `reasonably likely' to have succeeded, or to have obviated the need for a wiretap. In sum, Seth Fishman has provided no justification for why the proposed alternative techniques would be likely to succeed, and not just be `theoretically possible,” the attorneys conclude.

Glavin and Considine are also seeking to have evidence obtained from wiretaps of the phones of Navarro, veterinarian Kristian Rhein and Alexander Chan, a veterinarian who worked with Rhein, suppressed.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. NY Times, FX Investigation Into Racing Fails To Break New Ground
  2. The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia Takes Steps to Disqualify Maximum Security
  3. Argueta, Assistant To Trainer Servis, Sentenced To 'Time Served'
  4. Former Vet Chan Asks For Revision To 30-Month Doping Conspiracy Sentence
  5. What 60 Minutes Got Wrong, and What It Got Right

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.