Surick Sentenced 5 Years, 2 Months in Horse-Doping Scenario
Popular harness racing coach and Thoroughbred owner Nick Surick was sentenced Jan. 19 to five years and two months in jail for his involvement in what the Justice Office says is the most important horse-doping investigation in its history.
The sentencing took area in U.S. District Court in New York, where prison sentences have been meted out to 18 other defendants in the case. Prosecutors have charged 31 men and women considering the fact that March 2020.
Surick, 34, of Jackson, N.J., wore a match and tie to court and showed no response as the punishment was handed down by Decide Mary Kay Vyskocil. It was a single of the harshest sentences to come out of the FBI probe. Probation officers suggested a sentence of six years.
Surick agreed to plead guilty to a few felonies as aspect of a cooperation deal with prosecutors. He commenced cooperating shortly just after his arrest virtually 3 a long time ago with most of the other defendants. He instructed Vyskocil it was rough to give incriminating details about shut buddies and enterprise associates but claimed it was the proper matter to do.
He stated he was sorry for the crimes he dedicated. “I hurt the activity I really like,” he mentioned.
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He apologized to “hardworking” trainers, “the horses themselves,” and regulators.
“I owe an apology to the public,” he extra. “They were being gambling on a item that was not true.”
Surick additional, “I was caught up in this insane levels of competition to be the very best. I lost my way.”
Even although Surick ratted out many others in the racing sector, federal prosecutors declined to provide him with a so-referred to as 5K1 letter recommending leniency.
“The govt has concluded that the defendant has not offered considerable guidance in any investigation or prosecution,” prosecutor Sarah Mortazavi wrote in courtroom papers very last week forward of the sentencing.
“This final decision was precipitated by the defendant’s inaccurate recounting of a pivotal event involving the doping of a certain horse, Northern Virgin, which was bundled in a superseding charging instrument on the foundation of Surick’s description,” she said.
Mortazavi stated Surick informed prosecutors that co-defendant Rebecca Linke, a veterinarian, had individually injected Northern Virgin with the banned substance Epogen in December 2018 when in point Surick experienced injected the horse himself. Linke acquired a deferred prosecution arrangement from the prosecution.
In courtroom Mortazavi said that Surick’s incorrect version of what happened so compromised his credibility that prosecutors ended up unable to use the facts he supplied to charge anybody else.
Even now, she said prosecutors did not believe Surick lied and that it did not warrant ripping up the cooperation agreement. She said Surick nonetheless deserved credit score for making an attempt to cooperate at an early stage in the situation.
In court Surick said to Vyskocil that he experienced no motive to lie. He blamed a defective memory for what transpired.
“It really is an trustworthy miscalculation that ruined the 5K,” he mentioned.
Surick choked up as he asked the decide to sentence him to dwelling confinement.
“I just want to maintain likely straight,” he stated. “I am hoping and praying you give me the opportunity.”
“This situation is fairly exceptional, and for the courtroom a difficult situation,” Vyskocil reported. But she explained it was required to sentence Surick to prison for his crimes.
“By plying horses with PEDs you endangered other horses, jockeys, and motorists,” Vyskocil said. She claimed he cheated regulators and the betting general public.
“You impugned the integrity of the sport,” the judge informed Surick.
She reported Surick was unique from other defendants mainly because he experienced been billed with obstruction for impeding New Jersey Racing Fee investigators from screening Northern Virgin right after he had been doped with Epogen.
Surick and prosecutors memorialized the cooperation arrangement in October 2020 when Surick appeared ahead of Vyskocil and pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to misbrand and adulterate drugs and one depend of obstruction. The highest penalty for all those three prices is 30 a long time in prison.
A single of the conspiracy counts is connected to the doping of horses qualified by Jorge Navarro, who is serving a 5-yr sentence in the situation.
The other conspiracy depend is connected to Surick’s doping of his possess horses.
Surick was the a person prosecutors say was captured on a wiretap boasting to have built horses that Navarro “killed…disappear.”
“You know how numerous f—— horses he (Navarro) f—— killed and broke down that I manufactured disappear,” Surick was quoted as declaring to co-defendant trainer Michael Tannuzzo in February 2019. “… You know how much problems he could get in… if they discovered out…The 6 horses that we killed.”
Mortazavi wrote that during the proffer sessions with prosecutors, Surick minimized his dialogue with Tannuzzo.
Surick lawyer Timothy Donohue of West Orange, N.J., claimed about the discussion that it involved how “broken-down horses” ended up disposed of by promoting them to purchasers in Pennsylvania.
In 2017 Surick qualified the 1,000th winner of his occupation at Freehold Raceway, in accordance to reports. Two yrs afterwards, he received 367 races in 2019, ranking next in wins among the North American harness trainers.
As a Thoroughbred operator, from 2014 to 2019, Surick raced horses in 25 races at Gulfstream Park and Monmouth Park. He gained seven of all those races. He despatched most of the horses he owned to Navarro and Tannuzzo.
Prosecutors say the defendants prevented detection by racing regulators because the PEDs they used had been not detectable in post-race tests.
Final thirty day period distinguished trainer Jason Servis pleaded guilty to a felony criminal offense and a misdemeanor criminal offense. He admitted to delivery two banned substances.
Prosecutors had accused Servis of doping practically all the horses in his stable, together with winner Greatest Security , who was disqualified from initially in the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) for interference. Servis is scheduled to be sentenced Might 18 and faces four years in prison.
-The Thoroughbred industry’s primary publications are performing alongside one another to address this critical trial.