Veterinarian Louis Grasso Enters Guilty Plea in Doping Case

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Sarah Andrew

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Louis Grasso, a veterinarian who served the harness racing industry and who was one of 29 individuals indicted in March of 2020 for his role in a racehorse doping ring, entered a guilty plea in federal court Wednesday before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel. He was charged with one count of drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy, a felony, and could face as much as five years in prison.

The prosecution charged that Grasso's doping led to corrupt trainers collecting over $47 million in “ill-gotten purse winnings.”
He will be sentenced Sept. 6.

The plea was announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District Court, which, in a press release, took the occasion to also comment on a guilty plea entered last month from harness trainer Richard Banca.

“Grasso and Banca represent the corruption and greed of those in the racehorse industry looking to win at any cost,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “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.

According to the indictment, Grasso was 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.

Grasso was among four individuals involved with harness racing included in an indictment that also listed trainers Conor Flynn, Donato Poliseno and Thomas Guido III. Poliseno and Guido are scheduled to be tried June 27. Flynn has cooperated with the government and recently testified against Lisa Gianelli, who was convicted of misbranding and drug adulteration.

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