Horse Doping Drug Supplier Convicted in Manhattan Federal Court

May 20, 2022

By John T. Wendt, J.D., M.A., Professor Emeritus, Ethics and Business Law, University of St. Thomas

As part of the massive crackdown on doping in horseracing and resulting Federal Indictments,[1] Lisa Giannelli, an eighteen-year employee and sales representative, for Florida company Equestology, owned by veterinarian Dr. Seth Fishman was charged with one count of conspiring to violate federal law prohibiting the adulteration or misbranding of drugs.[2]  Fishman has already been convicted of two counts of drug adulteration and misbranding, with intent to defraud and mislead with “untestable” performance enhancing drugs for use in professional horseracing.[3]  His sentencing is set for May 26.  Giannelli and Fishman and were supposed to go to trial together, however because of a Giannelli’s attorney Louis Fasulo wasn’t able to return to court for at least 10 days Covid illness, Giannelli’s initial case was declared as a mistrial.  As Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil said, “I can’t have a jury on ice for 10 days.”[4]

Prosecutors brought forth five witnesses.  Two were Conor Flynn and Ross Cohen, former harness trainers who flipped and testified against Giannelli.  Both had pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in a bid for leniency at their sentencings.  Cohen admitted that he bought performance enhancing drugs from Gianelli.   Dr. Jean Bowman, an FDA veterinarian and expert witness on new animal drugs, testified on an inventory list of drugs available for purchase that were found on Giannelli’s computer.[5]  The last two witnesses were former harness racing horse trainer Adrienne Hall who was another client of Fishman and Rita Noblett, a retired Special Investigator who worked for the Pennsylvania Racing Commission.  Hall testified that she bought drugs from Fishman and “Lisa Ranger,” a name Giannelli used at that time.  Noblett testified that she found medications with no prescription labels in a box with a shipping label addressed to Fishman at Giannelli’s Delaware address.[6]

Giannelli, testifying on her own behalf, said that she never intended to defraud any racing commissions, never, never benefitted financially from trainers who violated the rules, and never agreed with Fishman to engage in fraud.  She said that she trusted Fishman because he was a licensed veterinarian and would sell whatever products he created, “I was just to take orders…I was not to give medical advice or offer a medical opinion or act as a veterinarian.” [7]  On cross examination she testified that she kept the drugs in her home to easier service Fishman’s clients as needed.  And as why she sold drugs without labels, Giannelli said, “That was a decision by my boss.  It was what it was… I know only know what Dr. Fishman told me.”[8]

The verdict was swift, after an eight-day trial, the jury spent less than two hours in deliberation finding Giannelli guilty.  After the trial 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.”[9]  Giannelli faces up to five years in prison for her conviction.

Among the remaining defendants of the Federal Indictments, the most notable is trainer Jason Servis, whose 3-year-old Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby and then was disqualified for interfering with another horse during the race.[10] 

[1] United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 27 Defendants In Racehorse Doping Rings, (2020), (last visited Dec 20, 2021).

[2] United States of America, v. Jorge Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Seth Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane, Jr., Christopher Oakes, Jason Servis, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley, Jr., Alexander Chan, and Rebecca Linke, S6 20-cr-00160 (MKV) (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 30, 2021).

[3] United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, Horse Doping Drug Supplier Convicted In Manhattan Federal Court, (2022), (last visited Feb 2, 2022).

[4] Robert Gearty, Mistrial Declared in Giannelli Case Due to Covid, (2022), (last visited May 2, 2022).

[5] Robert Gearty, Doping trial: 2nd federal convict testifies against Giannelli, Horse Racing Nation (2022), (last visited May 2, 2022).

[6] Bencal, Prosecution rests case in Giannelli trial – Harnesslink, (2022), (last visited May 4, 2022).

[7] Robert Gearty, Giannelli Testifies, Wanted to “Tell My Story,” (2022), (last visited May 6, 2022).

[8] Id.

[9] United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, Horse Doping Drug Seller Convicted In Manhattan Federal Court, (2022), (last visited May 7, 2022).

[10] Robert Gearty, Giannelli Faces Up To Five Years In Prison After Jury’s Swift Guilty Verdict In Horse Doping Trial, (2022), (last visited May 6, 2022). 

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