Horse Racing

Cohen testifies in Giannelli Trial

The second day of Lisa Giannelli’s horse doping trial in a New York courtroom began April 28 with testimony that opened and ended with the testimony of a former mining trainer turned government cooperative witness.

“The defendant is not only in the doping business, she is also in the business of deception,” prosecutor Benjamin Gianforte told the jury in U.S. District Court in New York.

But defense attorney Louis Fasulo countered by saying her client could not be found guilty because her actions had no criminal intent.

“Intention,” he wrote in large letters on the computer screen for a panel of eight men and four women to read.

Fasulo said intent is the crux of the case. “What are Lisa Giannelli’s intentions? Why did she do what she did? ”

Giannelli is challenging government evidence against her in a case that arose from the federal government’s crackdown on horse doping at racecourses around the country. The defendants include celebrity trainer Jason Servis, who faces trial in early 2023.

Giannelli is on trial for conspiring to violate federal law that prohibits the preparation or mislabelling of drugs.

In his foreword, Gianforte said that for more than two decades, Giannelli had illegally distributed performance-enhancing drugs that corrupt trainers used to make horses addicted. He said the drug clearly violated racing regulations. But that doesn’t stop the cheaters, he said.

“Why? Because fast horses win money”, the prosecutor said.

Gianforte said the drugs Ginannelli sells are sought after because they are designed not to show up during post-race testing.

The prosecutor said: “Professional equestrianism is highly competitive. “Win high profits.”

Those things create a huge temptation to deceive and defraud others, he said.

“It’s the doping that leads to fraud,” he said.

Gianforte never mentions an important person: veterinarian Seth Fishman, who manufactured the drug Giannelli sold at racetracks and training centers. Her clients are mainly harness trainers.

In February, Fishman was found guilty of conspiracy. Fasulo told the jury that Giannelli would testify that she did nothing wrong.

“She will tell you what she did and why she did it,” he said. “We’re not hiding from that.”

He told the jury that horse racing is a sport in its purest sense and that “the way it’s driven will suit people in the sport.”

He said the trial was not about PED or horse racing or whether animals should be drugged. And he says it’s not about the Mermaid “with his own motives that he keeps” from Giannelli.

“At no point did he tell her she did anything wrong in carrying out his orders,” he said. “She’s not a veterinarian; She is not a doctor. “

The collaborator was Ross Cohen, who stood behind when an FBI agent and an FBI photographer testified about law enforcement searches conducted at Giannelli’s home in Felton, Del., in 2020 and at Fishman’s warehouse in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2019.

Cohen was arrested in 2020 during a major government takedown. He has since pleaded guilty as part of a cooperation agreement with the government.

Cohen, 50, testified that he purchased a performance-enhancing bleeding-reducing drug from Giannelli while he was training horses in New York.

Under questioning by prosecutor Sarah Mortazavi, Cohen said Giannelli had told him he should have given his horse medication on race day even though it would have violated race rules.

“She said they weren’t testing it at this point, but there’s no guarantee they won’t always,” he testified.

He says testability is important to him.

“I don’t want suspensions and fines and owners losing their wallets,” Cohen said.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors showed the jury a 2016 document Giannelli sent Fishman that mentioned Cohen.

“Propanthelene bromide? Ross Cohen is asking about that,” Giannelli wrote.

“Yes, but it’s experimental,” Fishman replied.

Cohen testified that the substance was a bronchodilator that increased the airways of horses. He told Mortazavi that he didn’t remember talking to Giannelli about it. His testimony continued on April 29.

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