Veterinarian Grasso Sentenced to 50 Months

Sarah Andrew


Louis Grasso, a veterinarian who worked in the harness racing industry and was one of more than two dozen individuals indicted in 2020 for their role in a horse doping ring, has been sentenced to 50 months in prison and two years of supervised release. The sentence was handed down Tuesday by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in a lower Manhattan courtroom.

Grasso was also ordered to pay a forfeiture totaling $412,442.62 and restitution in the amount of $47,656,576. He must surrender to authorities on January 24, 2023, at which time he will enter prison.

Grasso was charged with one count of drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy, a felony. He faced a maximum sentence of five years. Several other defendants in the doping case that have pled guilty received sentences in the neighborhood of three years.  That Castel gave Grasso more than four years seems to reflect the severity of the charges against him.

The prosecution had maintained that Grasso's doping led to corrupt trainers collecting over $47 million in ill-gotten purse winnings.

In May, when Grasso entered a guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District Court issued a press release in which U.S. Attorney Damian Williams commented on the Grasso plea as well as the guilty plea entered by harness trainer Richard Banca. Banca was sentenced to 30 months.

“Grasso and Banca represent the corruption and greed of those in the racehorse industry looking to win at any cost,” Williams said. “In peddling illegal drugs and selling prescriptions to corrupt trainers, Louis Grasso abdicated his responsibilities as a medical professional to ensure the safety and health of the racehorses he 'treated.' By injecting horses with unnecessary and, at times, unknown drugs, Grasso risked the lives and welfare of the animals under his care, all in service of helping corrupt racehorse trainers like Banca line their pockets through fraud. These latest convictions demonstrate the commitment of this Office and of our partners at the FBI to hold accountable individuals seeking to profit from animal abuse and deceit.”

In the indictment of Grasso, the government portrayed him as a central figure in a scheme to manufacture, distribute and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs which were administered to horses. The government charged that Grasso and others delivered and received “at least thousands” of units of PEDs issued by pharmacies pursuant to invalid prescriptions. Banca was among his customers.

According to the indictment, Grasso was also manufacturing and/or selling “epogen,” pain shots of joint blocks, bronchodilators and a substance called “red acid.” Red acid is believed to reduce inflammation in joints.

It appears that Grasso's doping may have been restricted to harness racing as the indictment does not mention any illegal activities that involved Thoroughbred racing.

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