Veterinarian Chan Sentenced To 30 Months In Federal Drugs Case - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Veterinarian Chan Sentenced To 30 Months In Federal Drugs Case

Veterinarian Dr. Alexander Chan has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after he entered a guilty plea to one felony count of adulteration/misbranding of drugs in the 2020 federal doping case.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil handed down the sentence to Chan on May 25. He is scheduled to surrender to begin his term on Sept. 25 and has been ordered to a year of supervised release after getting out of prison.

Chan worked for co-defendant Dr. Kristian Rhein in Rhein's Empire Veterinary Group practice in New York, where both veterinarians serviced horses trained by co-defendant Jason Servis. Rhein entered a guilty plea and in January 2022 was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the scheme.

According to prosecutors, Rhein and Chan were responsible for distributing and administrating SGF-1000 and of giving clenbuterol to horses without valid prescriptions. Rhein was later revealed to own a share in MediVet Equine, which sold SGF-1000 in the United States.

Read more about SGF-1000 in our previous reporting here and here.

Presentencing documents from Chan's attorney tell the story of a hard-working veterinarian raised by immigrant parents who put in long hours to support his wife and two children, both of whom have chronic medical problems. Chan's professional career included a stint in Dubai working for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as a period of time as a regulatory veterinarian employed by the New York Racing Association.

[Story Continues Below]

After his arrest, Chan found work as a small animal veterinarian but eventually lost his veterinary license.

According to Chan, he and his family are now on federal assistance and are likely to lose their home as medical bills have mounted up. In a letter to Judge Vyskocil ahead of the sentencing, he indicated his wife and children will likely have to relocate back to her native Estonia if he is incarcerated for a long period of time, which would break up the family.

“My conscience has weighed heavily on me for the past three plus years and I would like to express to you directly how deeply saddened, embarrassed and full of remorse I am for my wrongful conduct,” wrote Chan. “My actions have not only caused me much internal turmoil, but have also inflicted great pain on my family, particularly my wife and young children. I am humiliated beyond my ability to convey that the things I did could have resulted in harm to the very horses I had taken an oath to protect.”

Chan wrote that in his time working for Rhein, “I was presented with many situations and instructed by my boss to engage in things that were against my moral compass. As a veterinarian, an employee, a husband and a father, I wish I had had the strength of character to stand up to what I knew was wrong … I know that despite my own tough personal circumstances, I had an obligation to prioritize the wellbeing of the horses above all else. …

“Please understand, I am solely and completely to blame for my actions. I could have and should have refused Dr. Rhein's instructions at any stage and I did not. Every day I question how I allowed myself to be so weak. I can find no rationalization to justify how I acted.”

Chan's public defender claims the veterinarian refused to administer SGF-1000 to horses by “at least 2019” — prior to his arrest. A pre-sentencing report from Chan's attorney also stated that Chan helped Rhein transport SGF-1000 but that he was told there was “nothing illegal” about it and that it did not contain growth factors, as one version of its labeling had suggested at one stage.

Support our journalism

If you appreciate our work, you can support us by subscribing to our Patreon stream. Learn more.

Prosecutors took issue with what they saw as Chan's attempts to minimize his involvement and hit back with transcripts of wiretapped phone calls in their pre-sentencing submission.

The transcripts detailed conversations between Chan and Servis that focused on Chan's interest in scrubbing billing records clean to avoid discovery by the New York State Gaming Commission that he was prescribing clenbuterol to horses without reporting it to them. As of Aug. 1, 2018, New York began requiring that private vets submit a request to them for approval to treat a horse with clenbuterol and would record that treatment.

The conversation between Chan and Servis detailed the brainstorming by the two to conceal how much of the drug was going to horses in Servis' barn. Servis suggested it could be billed under the heading of 'barn supplies' “because it goes through the whole barn,” while Chan suggested it be billed as a supplement called “pro-bios.”

Chan also pointed out to Servis that any time he dispensed a new bottle of clenbuterol to the barn, he made sure to back date it to prior to the Aug. 1 enforcement of the gaming commission rule and attributed it to one of three horses – Sunny Ridge, World of Trouble, and Life of Shambles – who were in the barn at the time, presumably so Servis could claim the bottle was old and was in the barn by mistake. Chan said he hadn't yet worked out what system he would use to evade detection after those horses left the Servis barn.

“…Another guy just called me,” Chan told Servis. “He came up from Florida and then he was like oh shit like I didn't know you can't use it here anymore and stuff cause he has his whole barn on it and stuff.”

Another phone call intercepted in August 2019 depicted Rhein warning Chan to be careful in his interactions with Servis, echoing fears Rhein revealed in other released wire taps that authorities were watching Servis' operation.

“So to my knowledge they are just looking for a smoking gun,” Rhein said. “And I don't know what smoking gun it is, but they are going to try to hang it on whatever they think it is.”

Previous court records established that when the co-defendants wanted to conceal the administration of SGF-1000 to a horse, they billed it as “acupuncture and chiropractic.” The prosecutors' pre-sentencing report also included a partially-redacted print-out of horses in the Servis barn that had an “acupuncture and chiropractic” line item on their bill. These included Broken Border, Gran the Man, Attiya, Boss Man, Pioneer Spirit, Sunny Ridge, Astounding, Luteran Miss, Picco Uno, Still Krz, and One Sided, all of whom were treated between December 2016 and February 2017, some of them multiple times.

Servis remains the only defendant in the original March 2020 awaiting sentencing. That had originally been scheduled for this month but has since been pushed back to late July.

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More