Feds' evidence ‘voluminous’ against indicted trainers

Feds' evidence ‘voluminous’ against indicted trainers
Photo: Lauren King/Gulfstream Park

Writing for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, known for a conviction rate exceeding 90%, U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman told a judge that the government possesses “voluminous” evidence against defendants in indictments handed down this week to, among others, high-profile trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis.

Berman, in a Thursday letter to judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, who will handle most of the cases, said discovery includes wiretaps from cell phones of both trainers and their alleged co-conspirators from October of 2018 through October 2019. Federal investigators also received search warrants for more than a dozen email accounts, online storage accounts and devices, primarily cell phones. They also “conducted two covert searches on barns associated with the Navarro defendants.”

Navarro and Servis were both arrested Monday in Florida, Berman wrote, and released on bail. Other trainers and vets were wrangled in jurisdictions across the country, as was Michael Kegley Jr., head of a pharmaceutical company in Kentucky that produces SGF-1000, a banned substance Servis is alleged to have administered to champion 3-year-old Maximum Security.

Coinciding with Monday’s arrests, federal agents “executed multiple searches of various premises associated with the Navarro defendants, including residential and commercial premises at which large volumes of drugs and electronics were obtained.”

Presumably, there is now more to detail than what was included in bombshell documents unsealed Monday. The government “will continue to process those search returns and will attempt to provide an estimate of the total volume of discovery to defense counsel as soon as possible,” Berman wrote.

Defendants are to appear March 23 in New York for the court’s arraignment and initial conferencing. Due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, defendants have the option to phone into the court, Berman wrote, in hopes of maintaining the set schedule. Proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. ET.

Navarro, Servis and Servis’ New York-based assistant, Henry Argueta, have since their arrests been suspended by the New York State Gaming Commission. That ruling is expected to be reciprocated by other racing jurisdictions.

In their indictments, federal prosecutors cited a “widespread scheme” by Navarro to acquire mislabeled substances and conceal their use in his horses, including the late Navarro-trained Group 1 winner X Y Jet.

Berman's letter can be read in full below:

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