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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 8, 2022

Horse Doping Seller Sentenced To 42 Months In Manhattan Federal Court

Lisa Giannelli Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that defendant LISA GIANNELLI, received a sentence of 42 months in prison today for her role in an approximately 20-year scheme to sell and distribute to racehorse trainers and others in the racehorse industry “untestable” performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs”) for use in professional horseracing. GIANNELLI was one of over 30 defendants charged in four separate cases in March 2020, each arising from this Office’s multi-year investigation of the abuse of racehorses through the use of performance enhancing drugs.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “For years, Giannelli catered to corrupt racehorse trainers by selling illegal performance-enhancing drugs designed to deceive the very people who could put a stop to these crimes. Today’s sentence sends a message that those who engage in fraud and animal abuse will be held to account.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment, prior charging instruments, other filings in this case, and as established by the evidence at trial:[1]

GIANNELLI was charged in United States v. Navarro, 20 Cr. 160 (MKV), a case arising from an investigation of widespread schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing. By evading PED prohibitions and deceiving drug regulators and horse racing officials, participants in these schemes sought to improve race performance and obtain prize money from racetracks throughout the United States and other countries, including in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, and the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”), all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses. Trainers who participated in the schemes stood to profit from the success of racehorses under their control by earning a share of their horses’ winnings and by improving their horses’ racing records, thereby yielding higher trainer fees and increasing the number of racehorses under their control. Indicted veterinarians profited from the sale and administration of these medically unnecessary, misbranded, and adulterated substances. GIANNELLI, a seller of customized PEDs designed specifically to evade anti-doping controls, personally earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales commissions from her sale and distribution of PEDs to trainers around the United States.

GIANNELLI marketed these drugs as “untestable” under typical anti-doping drug screens and extolled the virtues of these illegal drugs by describing their potency and untestability.  In the course of over fifteen years during which GIANNELLI operated under the auspices of the company, Equestology, GIANNELLI deliberately lied to state investigators to cover up her crimes and sold vials with no or incomplete labels, with no hint as to the provenance of those unsafe and prohibited drugs.

The drugs GIANNELLI sold included intravenous and intramuscular injectables that she sold to laypeople for injection into the horses under their purported “care,” many of which were seized at premises throughout the country at the time of the original indictments in this case, including barns located in New York. Those included “blood building” drugs (for example, “BB3” and other Epogen-mimetic substances), vasodilators (for example, “VO2Max”), and bags filled with scores of “bleeder pills,” each designed to covertly increase performance in affected horses.

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GIANNELLI, 55, of Felton, Delaware, was previously convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit misbranding and drug adulteration in connection with her work for Equestology. In addition to her prison sentence, GIANNELLI was ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $900,000, reflecting the value of the adulterated and misbranded drugs GIANNELLI and her co-conspirators sold as part of his fraudulent doping schemes.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI New York Office’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and its support of the Bureau’s Integrity in Sports and Gaming Initiative. Mr. Williams also thanked the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection for their assistance and expertise. This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Mortazavi and Benjamin A. Gianforti are in charge of the prosecution.

 

[1] As to GIANELLI’s co-defendants, these facts, including the entirety of the texts of the Indictments and the descriptions of the Indictments set forth herein, constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

 

Contact: 
Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
22-283
Updated September 8, 2022