More Than Three Years After Original Indictments, A New Name Surfaces

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In the case involving high-profile Thoroughbred trainers Jorge Navarro, Jason Servis and more than two dozen others, Standardbred horseman Brandon Simpson has pled guilty to one count of drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy for his role in a scheme to provide horses with performance-enhancing drugs.

What makes the Simpson case unusual is that his guilty plea came some three years after the original charges against Navarro, Servis, et. al. were unsealed and there was no mention of Simpson's name in the indictments released at that time. Court records released this week show that Simpson came to the government's attention as early as mid-November, 2020 when the government and Simpson's attorneys agreed on a bail package. What happened over the next several months and why was Simpson's name omitted from the original indictment remain unanswered questions. The Simpson development also raises the question as to whether or not more new names will surface in the near future when it comes to those being indicted as part of the drugging scandal.

Simpson both trained and drove, winning 1,643 races as a driver and 375 as a trainer. He last drove in 2017 and it appears that around that time he accepted a job as an assistant to trainer Rene Allard. Allard is among the bigger names caught up in the scandal and is currently serving a 27-month prison sentence after he previously plead guilty to one felony count of misbranding and altering drugs.

In a particularly troubling chapter in the Allard scandal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation intercepted a phone conversation in which two other alleged conspirators discussed the deaths of horses trained by Allard after they had been given illegal drugs. One reference caught on wiretap described the trainer's operation as the “Allard death camp.”

Court documents released this week detailed Simpson's activities, which included purchasing drugs at a pharmacy in South Carolina and then shipping them to a training center located in the Southern District of New York. Simpson also, the government claims, “administered prescription drugs to racehorses under Simpson's and others' control without a valid veterinary prescription, for the purposes of enhancing the horses' race performance.”

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