Servis Negotiating with Feds for Plea Bargain

Jason Servis | Sarah Andrew

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The barred trainer Jason Servis, the final–and most notoriously prominent–defendant awaiting a trial or sentencing in the 2020 racehorse doping conspiracy scandal, is negotiating with federal prosecutors for a plea bargain agreement to adjudicate the three felony drug misbranding and fraud conspiracy charges he is facing for allegedly drugging almost all the Thoroughbreds under his care in 2019.

The disclosure was revealed late Friday afternoon in an otherwise routine court filing asking for an extension of time to file motions in Servis's upcoming trial, which has a Jan. 9 start date.

“The Government and counsel for defendant Jason Servis are currently in discussions regarding a potential pre-trial disposition, which may obviate the need for trial,” wrote United States Attorney Damian Williams in his letter to the court.

The request for extra time was granted by Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil of United States District Court (Southern District of New York).

The Dec. 2 filing also referenced a change-of-plea hearing that same judge had granted the day before to the New York-based veterinarian Alexander Chan, who is accused of his own trio of felony charges related to injecting purported performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) into Servis's horses and then hiding the charges from billing and veterinary records.

Chan, as part of his plea change, could very well implicate his former client, Servis, during his Dec. 5 hearing.

That's what another veterinarian who worked for Servis, Kristian Rhein, did in August 2021 when he changed his own plea to guilty on one felony count within the federal government's sprawling prosecution of an allegedly years-long conspiracy to dope racehorses. Rhein got the maximum sentence of three years imprisonment for his crimes.

Chan and Servis were scheduled to be tried together next month.

“In light of the foregoing, the parties respectfully contend that a brief adjournment of the upcoming deadline [to file motions] will facilitate the parties' ongoing efforts to reach a resolution short of trial,” Williams wrote to the judge.

The feds have already disclosed they have a trove of wiretapped evidence involving Servis speaking about his doping regimens to Rhein, Chan, and the now-imprisoned trainer Jorge Navarro, who in December 2021 was sentenced to five years behind bars for his rampant criminal usage of equine PEDs.

Some of those secretly recorded phone conversations involved the MGISW Maximum Security, who crossed the wire first in the GI Kentucky Derby, but was DQ'd for in-race interference.

One of the elixirs of choice for both Servis and Navarro was SGF-1000, a custom-made, purported PED intended to promote tissue repair and increase a racehorse's stamina and endurance beyond its natural capability. The two trainers discussed this PED in an intercepted call on March 5, 2019. The transcript reads as such:

Servis: I'll tell you what, Jorge. I'm using that [expletive] shot. What is it, SGF?

Navarro: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I got, uh, I got more than 12 horses on that so I'll let you know, okay?

Servis: I've been using it on everything, almost.

Navarro: Jay, we'll sit down and talk about this [expletive]. I don't want to talk about this [expletive] on the phone, okay?

Servis: All right. You're right.

On June 5, 2019, a call between Servis and Rhein went like this, according to the feds:

Servis: Are you by yourself?

Rhein: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just walked out of the barn.

Servis: Hey. So they've been doing some out-of-competition testing, which I have no problem with. Um, they took Maximum Security Monday and they came back again today. But Monday he got the KS. I just want to make sure we are all good with that.

Rhein: Wait, what did he get?

Servis: I'm sorry, I said “KS.” The, you know, your shot. The…

Rhein: Oh, the SG.

Servis: Yeah, that stuff.

Rhein: Yeah-no, no, no. The Jockey Club tested it, and I met the guy who tested it way back when. It comes back as collagen. They don't even have a test for it.

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