Well known harness racing coach and Thoroughbred proprietor Nick Surick was sentenced Jan. 19 to five years and two months in jail for his involvement in what the Justice Office states is the most important horse-doping investigation in its background.
The sentencing took location in U.S. District Court docket in New York, in which jail sentences have been meted out to 18 other defendants in the situation. Prosecutors have charged 31 men and women because March 2020.
Surick, 34, of Jackson, N.J., wore a accommodate and tie to courtroom and confirmed no response as the punishment was handed down by Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. It was just one of the harshest sentences to arrive out of the FBI probe. Probation officers encouraged a sentence of six years.
Surick agreed to plead guilty to 3 felonies as portion of a cooperation deal with prosecutors. He began cooperating soon just after his arrest just about a few several years in the past with most of the other defendants. He explained to Vyskocil it was hard to supply incriminating info about close mates and organization associates but explained it was the suitable factor to do.
He claimed he was sorry for the crimes he committed. “I hurt the activity I love,” he mentioned.
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He apologized to “hardworking” trainers, “the horses themselves,” and regulators.
“I owe an apology to the general public,” he added. “They were being gambling on a solution that was not accurate.”
Surick included, “I was caught up in this ridiculous competition to be the ideal. I shed my way.”
Even while Surick ratted out other folks in the racing field, federal prosecutors declined to present him with a so-identified as 5K1 letter recommending leniency.
“The governing administration has concluded that the defendant has not provided substantial guidance in any investigation or prosecution,” prosecutor Sarah Mortazavi wrote in court docket papers previous week in advance of the sentencing.
“This conclusion was precipitated by the defendant’s inaccurate recounting of a pivotal occasion involving the doping of a unique horse, Northern Virgin, which was involved in a superseding charging instrument on the basis of Surick’s description,” she claimed.
Mortazavi claimed Surick informed prosecutors that co-defendant Rebecca Linke, a veterinarian, had personally injected Northern Virgin with the banned material Epogen in December 2018 when in reality Surick experienced injected the horse himself. Linke received a deferred prosecution agreement from the prosecution.
In court Mortazavi stated that Surick’s incorrect variation of what happened so compromised his believability that prosecutors have been unable to use the data he furnished to demand any individual else.
Nonetheless, she reported prosecutors did not believe Surick lied and that it did not warrant ripping up the cooperation arrangement. She explained Surick even now deserved credit score for making an attempt to cooperate at an early issue in the scenario.
In courtroom Surick stated to Vyskocil that he had no purpose to lie. He blamed a defective memory for what occurred.
“It is an honest miscalculation that ruined the 5K,” he said.
Surick choked up as he asked the decide to sentence him to dwelling confinement.
“I just want to continue to keep heading straight,” he stated. “I am hoping and praying you give me the possibility.”
“This case is considerably unique, and for the court a challenging situation,” Vyskocil stated. But she claimed it was necessary to sentence Surick to prison for his crimes.
“By plying horses with PEDs you endangered other horses, jockeys, and motorists,” Vyskocil claimed. She stated he cheated regulators and the betting general public.
“You impugned the integrity of the sport,” the choose instructed Surick.
She claimed Surick was various from other defendants since he experienced been charged with obstruction for impeding New Jersey Racing Commission investigators from testing Northern Virgin after he experienced been doped with Epogen.
Surick and prosecutors memorialized the cooperation agreement in Oct 2020 when Surick appeared in advance of Vyskocil and pleaded responsible to two counts of conspiracy to misbrand and adulterate drugs and 1 depend of obstruction. The most penalty for these a few expenses is 30 decades in prison.
A single of the conspiracy counts is similar to the doping of horses qualified by Jorge Navarro, who is serving a five-yr sentence in the case.
The other conspiracy count is connected to Surick’s doping of his have horses.
Surick was the one particular prosecutors say was captured on a wiretap declaring to have built horses that Navarro “killed…disappear.”
“You know how quite a few f—— horses he (Navarro) f—— killed and broke down that I produced vanish,” Surick was quoted as declaring to co-defendant trainer Michael Tannuzzo in February 2019. “… You know how a lot problems he could get in… if they found out…The 6 horses that we killed.”
Mortazavi wrote that all through the proffer classes with prosecutors, Surick minimized his conversation with Tannuzzo.
Surick lawyer Timothy Donohue of West Orange, N.J., mentioned about the discussion that it worried how “broken-down horses” were disposed of by promoting them to purchasers in Pennsylvania.
In 2017 Surick skilled the 1,000th winner of his job at Freehold Raceway, in accordance to reviews. Two yrs afterwards, he gained 367 races in 2019, ranking next in wins among 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 people races. He sent most of the horses he owned to Navarro and Tannuzzo.
Prosecutors say the defendants prevented detection by racing regulators simply because the PEDs they used have been not detectable in submit-race tests.
Past thirty day period well known trainer Jason Servis pleaded responsible to a felony criminal offense and a misdemeanor crime. He admitted to shipping two banned substances.
Prosecutors experienced accused Servis of doping virtually all the horses in his secure, including champion Greatest Security , who was disqualified from 1st in the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) for interference. Servis is scheduled to be sentenced Could 18 and faces four years in prison.
-The Thoroughbred industry’s major publications are doing work jointly to cover this critical demo.