Guilty Verdict for Lisa Giannelli

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The federal government's crackdown on horse doping notched another courthouse win May 6 with a jury finding Lisa Giannelli guilty of conspiracy to misbrand and adulterate drugs after an eight-day trial.

The jury of eight men and four women in U.S. District Court in New York returned the verdict after less than two hours of deliberations spanning two days.

Giannelli, 55, of Felton, Del., faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison at her sentencing Sept. 8 before Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil.

The jurors rejected Giannelli's testimony in which she defended her actions selling medications for veterinarian Dr. Seth Fishman when she was his employee for 18 years at Florida-based Equestology.

As part of their verdict, the jury also agreed that Giannelli's intent was to defraud and mislead.

New York U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said, “For almost two decades, Lisa Giannelli peddled untestable performance-enhancing drugs to give racehorse trainers the tools to dope racehorses. As a former standardbred racehorse trainer, Giannelli knew firsthand the dangers of selling illegal, injectable performance-enhancing drugs to trainers who were recklessly injecting horses to gain a competitive edge. The jury's swift conviction demonstrates the gravity of Giannelli's criminal scheme. This Office remains committed to holding accountable those who would engage in the kind of fraud and animal abuse exemplified by Giannelli's crimes.”

Giannelli stood at the defense table and turned towards the jury during the reading of the verdict. She was wearing a mask and had no visible reaction. She remains free on a $100,000 bond.

She rushed out of the courtroom with her husband.

“I'm disappointed,” defense attorney Louis Fasulo said. He plans to file a motion challenging the verdict.

The charges against Giannelli grew out of a lengthy FBI investigation into horse doping at Thoroughbred and harness race tracks two years ago that resulted in the indictments of more than two dozen people.

Just before announcing their verdict, the jury came to the courtroom to inspect a seized drug bottle that the government introduced into evidence during the trial.

The bottle was labeled BB3 which prosecutors said was a misbranded and adulterated PED designed to boost a horse's red blood cells.

Ten jurors walked past the bottle before two stopped to inspect the bottle with gloved hands.

“The government's case was very strong,” juror Joe Coughlan, 56, of Valley Cottage, N.Y., said after the verdict. “It was a preponderance of the evidence. I couldn't see any other verdict but guilty.”

Coughlan said it's “obviously not a good thing” that horses were being doped at race tracks.

“That amounts to cheating,” he said.

He said he had no idea how extensive the problem was until the trial.

“It's a sport and you've got bettors who are relying on everything being okay,” he said. “You want things to be above board. If they are not, what do you do?”

Prosecutors said the products Giannelli distributed for Fishman were illegal substances meant to enhance a horse's performance while being undetectable in tests conducted by racing authorities after races.

Fishman, a Florida veterinarian, was found guilty at his own trial in February. His sentencing is May 26.

Since the initial indictments, the number of defendants has grown to 31.

Of those 14 have pleaded guilty including two former harness trainers who became government witnesses against Giannelli.

Two other defendants agreed to deferred prosecution agreements.

Defendants with charges still pending include the prominent trainer Jason Servis, whose 3-year-old Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and then was disqualified for interfering with another horse during the race.

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