After Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss, Navarro Expected To Change Not Guilty Plea

Trainer Jorge Navarro will likely become the latest in a string of federal defendants changing his not guilty plea, according to documents filed late Friday in an ongoing illegal drugs case. A change of plea hearing for Navarro is set for Aug. 11 before U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. Navarro is charged with two felony counts of drug adulteration and misbranding related to what prosecutors say is a complex ring of veterinarians, drug makers, and suppliers who worked together to manufacture, sell, distribute and use illegal medications to dope racehorses.

The federal case file does not indicate whether Navarro will change his plea in one or both counts.

Also on July 30, Vyskocil filed an order denying a series of motions from Navarro and other defendants to dismiss the charges against them. Several defendants had argued that they could not be charged under federal drug misbranding laws, in part because they did not commit those violations and in part because prosecutors could not identify legitimate victims of their alleged crimes.

Vyskocil asserted in her order that prosecutors were accusing the defendants of a conspiracy to commit violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and that the alleged failure to identify specific and relevant victims of the crimes at hand does not constitute a valid reason to dismiss the case. Prosecutors have depicted the FDA and Customs and Border Protection as victims of the crimes, along with state racing regulators, since the misbranding and use of the drugs were designed to deceive and evade those agencies. Vyskocil stated those were appropriate and proper victims of the crimes alleged.

Some defendants had also tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the Horseracing Integrity land Safety Act (HISA) would soon supersede the authority of the FDA in horse racing under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Vyskocil also did not find that argument compelling, pointing out that HISA has not yet been enacted (it’s scheduled to go into effect on or before July 2022) and that legal precedent cautions against the assumption that one new law will automatically alter authorities granted by a previous law. Besides, Vyskocil pointed out, HISA is not concerned with the misbranding of drugs, but rather the use of drugs in horse racing. The former is the basis for the federal charges against Navarro and his co-defendants.

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On July 23, federal defendant Michael Kegley altered his plea to guilty in the case, admitting he marketed and sold adulterated substances to trainers and veterinarians, knowing there was no valid prescription for them and that they were not made in a FDA-approved facility. Earlier this week, a change of plea hearing also appeared on the docket for Dr. Kristian Rhein, who was alleged to help distribute SGF-1000, one of the drugs marketed by Kegley.

The post After Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss, Navarro Expected To Change Not Guilty Plea appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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