Dr. Seth Fishman, Navarro’s Vet, could get up to 20 years

February 2, 2022

Seth Fishman Peddled Hundreds of Customized Performance Enhancing Drugs to Racehorse Trainers Across the United States and Abroad

MANHATTAN, N.Y.— In a trial that lasted 11 days, Dr. Seth Fishman, veterinarian to Jorge Navarro and many other trainers, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on federal charges that carry a sentence of up to 20 years. 

Absent from court Wednesday, Fishman was found guilty of conspiring to violate adulteration and misbranding laws and the manufacture of performance-enhancing drugs at tracks (PEDS) by a jury of A jury of eight women and four men. The verdict came after three hours of deliberations over two days. 

The 50-year-old Florida veterinarian was first to go on trial in the sweeping horse-doping case that documented the widespread use of illegal and undetectable PEDS across the country administered to racehorses by corrupt trainers.

U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil will sentence Fishman on May 5.

It was nearly two years ago that Fishman, six other veterinarians, 11 trainers and nine others, identified as PED distributors, were charged in schemes in a conspiracy to dope horse following a two-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and New York federal prosecutors.

Those charged included top trainer Jason Servis, who federal prosecutors say juiced multi-millionaire Maximum Security, the first-place finisher in the 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), who was demoted to 17th by stewards for interference with another horse in the race. Servis is awaiting trial.

Trainer Jorge Navarro was already sentenced to five years in prison in 2021 after pleading guilty to conspiracy. 

It’s noted in the Department of Justice press release that “Navarro specifically credited Fishman for X Y Jet’s performance at the Golden Shaheen.” Below is the entire press release.

DOJ Press Release

MANHATTAN, N.Y.—Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the conviction at trial of defendant SETH FISHMAN, DVM, on two counts of drug adulteration and misbranding, with intent to defraud and mislead, in connection with a nearly twenty-year scheme to create and distribute “untestable” performance enhancing drugs for use in professional horseracing. FISHMAN was one of over thirty defendants charged in four separate cases in March 2020, each arising from this Office’s multi-year investigation of the abuse of racehorses through the use of performance enhancing drugs.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “The jury’s swift conviction of Seth Fishman reflects the overwhelming evidence of his guilt as displayed through this trial. As an ostensible veterinarian – sworn to the care and protection of animals – Fishman cynically violated his oath in service of corrupt trainers and in the pursuit of profits. Through the sale of untested, unsafe, and unstable drugs, Fishman’s illegal drug business was a platform for both fraud and animal abuse. Today’s conviction appropriately condemns the danger inherent in Fishman’s crimes and underscores the seriousness with which this Office takes the kind of abuse that Fishman practiced.”

As established by the evidence at trial:[1]

FISHMAN was charged in United States vNavarro, 20 Cr. 160 (MKV), a case arising from an investigation of widespread schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing. By evading PED prohibitions and deceiving regulators and horse racing officials, participants in these schemes sought to improve race performance and obtain prize money from racetracks throughout the United States and other countries, including in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, and the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”), all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses.  Trainers who participated in the schemes stood to profit from the success of racehorses under their control by earning a share of their horses’ winnings, and by improving their horses’ racing records, thereby yielding higher trainer fees, and increasing the number of racehorses under their control. Indicted veterinarians profited from the sale and administration of these medically unnecessary, misbranded, and adulterated substances. FISHMAN, acting as the manufacturer of customized PEDs designed specifically to evade anti-doping controls, reaped millions of dollars from the sale of his drugs to trainers around the United States and across the globe.

FISHMAN specifically targeted clients in the racehorse industry, peddling dozens of unsafe and untested drugs that purported to have performance-enhancing effects on racehorses.  FISHMAN created and marketed these drugs as “untestable” under typical anti-doping drug screens and extolled the virtues of these illegal drugs by describing his method of creating customized products for individual customers in order to silo product lines to reduce the likelihood that detection of doping by trainer would undermine the remainder of FISHMAN’s corrupt clientele.

In the course of nearly twenty years during which he operated his doping company, Equestology, FISHMAN took additional efforts to mislead and lie to regulatory authorities in an effort to shield his illegal activity. FISHMAN incorporated a sham business in Panama designed to appear as if his drug operation was outside the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities; he pressured employees to sign non-disclosure agreements intended to gag them if questioned by regulators; he designed labels that would provide no hint as to the provenance of the unsafe drugs shipped across the country; and he lied to state investigators regarding the nature of his business when asked directly about his role in Equestology during a Delaware state investigation in 2011, while also bragging to others that he had called in a “personal political favor” to quash that investigation.

While claiming to practice as a legitimate veterinarian, FISHMAN used his veterinary license as another form of cover for his illegal drug manufacturing business. In fact, FISHMAN sold illicit drugs, including prescription drugs, under sham prescriptions for animals that he never saw or discussed. Those drugs included intravenous and intramuscular injectables that FISHMAN sold to laypeople for injection into the horses under their purported “care,” many of which were seized at premises throughout the country at the time of the original indictments in this case, including barns located in New York. Those included “blood building” drugs (for example, “BB3” and other Epogen-mimetic substances), vasodilators (for example, “VO2Max”), and bags filled with scores of “bleeder pills,” each designed to covertly increase performance in affected horses.

FISHMAN was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit misbranding and drug adulteration in connection with the doping operation of convicted co-defendant Jorge Navarro. Among the horses that FISHMAN aided Navarro in doping XY Jet, a thoroughbred horse that won the 2019 Golden Shaheen race in Dubai before dying of sudden heart attack in January 2020. As established at trial, FISHMAN sold tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of PEDs to Navarro over the course of several years, and Navarro specifically credited FISHMAN for XY Jet’s performance at the Golden Shaheen.  

FISHMAN was further convicted of a second count of conspiracy to commit misbranding and drug adulteration in connection with the operation of Equestology, which included FISHMAN’s continuation of that offense even following his release on bail following his initial arrest in October 2019. FISHMAN faces a total of up to 20 years in prison for his convictions. The statutory maximum penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of FISHMAN will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI New York Office’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and its support of the Bureau’s Integrity in Sports and Gaming Initiative. This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Mortazavi, Andrew C. Adams, and Anden Chow are in charge of the prosecution.

 [1] As to Fishman’s co-defendants, these facts, including the entirety of the texts of the Indictments and the descriptions of the Indictments set forth herein, constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Department of Justice Press Release
Photo of Jorge Navarro’s shoes courtesy of DOJ

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