A jury in New York heard a full day of testimony in the federal equine doping trial from Dr. Seth Fishman and Lisa Giannelli.
All morning and most of the afternoon there was a second day of testimony from a woman who worked for Fishman for five years at his company Equestology in Florida.
Courtney Adams, 34, testifying from Florida via video conference, told jurors that Fishman and Equestology were all about “testability.” That meant creating a “product” that couldn’t be detected in post-race testing by the horse racing authorities, she said.
During her testimony in the US District Court in Manhattan, prosecutors showed an email in which a vet who was a customer of Equestology asked about one of the products, equine growth hormone, and whether it was testable.
“That was our biggest selling point, that he specialized in making products that weren’t testable,” Adams testified, referring to Fishman.
The witness, who had been an Equestology office manager and then a salesperson, said Fishman had told her there was a risk that regulators would devise a test to detect the substance. If that happened, Fishman said he would have to make another product that would be undetectable, she said.
“That was the whole point of that product not to test,” Adams testified.
Fishman and Giannelli are accused of conspiring in a massive scheme to dope horses with performance-enhancing drugs to increase the treated horses’ chances of winning races. The accused include prominent trainer Jason Servis, who has made a not-guilty plea and is awaiting trial. Others, such as trainer Jorge Navarro, have pleaded guilty and have been convicted.
Prosecutors say the accused were motivated by greed to win races and acted with no regard for the welfare and safety of horses.
While on the booth, Adams admitted to helping mislabel products Fishman made for customers across the country and in the United Arab Emirates. She said she also shipped bottles of product without labels.
Under questioning by prosecutor Andrew Adams, the witness said she knew “in general terms” that some of those who bought Fishman’s drugs were horse trainers.
“He would discuss why they wanted them and why they were using them,” she testified.
“And did he say why they were used by trainers?” the prosecutor asked.
“He said they were being used because they were untestable,” Adams replied.
The jury also heard the witness mention the names of some of the drugs sold by Equestology.
Those products include Endurance, Bleeder, Hormone Therapy Pack, HP Bleeder Plus, and PSDS.
Adams testified that PSDS stood for Pain Shot Double Strength and described it as a “double strength product for pain”.
She indicated that she did not know what the other means were for.
Adams said she retired from working for Equestology in 2017.
“To be honest, I was over it,” Adams testified. “I didn’t want to do it anymore.”
When she left, Fishman asked her not to talk about their business with anyone, Adams noted.
“I said okay,” she said.
She said Food and Drug Administration investigators approached her in 2018 to ask about Fishman. She said she didn’t like talking to them without a lawyer.
After Fishman, Giannelli, Servis and about two dozen others associated with horse racing were indicted in the doping case in March 2020, Adams said a friend sent her a link to a story about the arrests.
She said she contacted the police after reading it.
“I read the story and realized they didn’t have the whole story, and I felt obligated to give it to them,” Adams told the jury.
She said that as a result of the information she had provided, government attorneys had offered her a non-prosecution agreement.
During the cross-examination, Fishman’s attorney Maurice Sercarz attempted to suggest that Adams was motivated to contact the police out of personal hostility to Fishman.
She admitted that before leaving Equestology, Fishman accused her of theft and using Equestology funds to buy personal items.
She told Sercarz she was upset about those allegations “because they were false”.
During his cross-examination, Giannelli’s attorney, Louis Fasulo, asked Adams if she would work in a place where horses are at risk.
No was her answer.
Adams also said she didn’t think she was breaking the law when labeling products she said were mislabeled.
Towards the end of the day, Angela Jett, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, took the stand to read from notes from an interview she conducted with Fishman in 2010.
Jett said she interviewed Fishman as a possible government witness in a $190 million securities fraud case. That case involved a tycoon named David Brooks and a body armor company he owned on Long Island. Fishman worked for Brooks, an owner of Standardbred racehorses that competed in New York and elsewhere.
According to the notes, Fishman told Jett that he supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Brooks, who administered them to horses before racing.
Brooks was found guilty of charges related to the fraud in 2010 and died in prison while serving a 17-year sentence.
Under cross-examination by Sercarz, Jett acknowledged that her notes do not say whether Fishman learned of the doping at the time it happened or “after the fact.”
He also pointed out that it appears from Jett’s notes that when Brooks asked Fishman to baptize a horse, Fishman refused.
Fishman’s confessions to Jett have never led to charges.
The trial will resume on January 24.
The Thoroughbred industry’s leading publications are teaming up to cover this important trial.
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