Lisa Giannelli testified at her May 4 trial that she had good reason to want to testify in her own defense.
“To tell my story,” she told the jury in the US District Court in New York.
Giannelli faces a conspiracy charge, accused of aiding veterinarian Seth Fishman in the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs that prosecutors say were used by corrupt trainers to dope racehorses in violation of regulations on races.
During three hours of questioning by her lawyer Louis Fasulo, Giannelli, who admitted to being nervous at the start of her testimony, told the jury that she never intended to defraud race commissions.
She also testified that she never benefited financially when trainers decided to break the rules to win races.
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And she testified that she never agreed with Fishman to engage in fraud.
“It was never my intention,” Giannelli said.
The testimony took place on the sixth day of the trial before Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. The trial resumes on May 5 with closing arguments and possibly jury deliberations.
Prosecutors say Fishman, who was convicted in February and faces 20 years in prison, made PEDs that Giannelli sold from her home as an employee of Fishman’s Equestology company.
Giannelli testified that she understood she could sell any products Fishman created because he was a licensed veterinarian.
“I just had to take charge,” she told the jury. “I was not to give medical advice or offer medical advice or act as a veterinarian.”
Giannelli testified that the drugs she kept in her home that the FBI seized when she was arrested in 2020 were “Dr. Fishman items that customers called in as needed.”
She said that Fishman made her products without her help and that she knew little about them.
Giannelli also testified that she was not involved in designing labels for these products.
Asked then by Fasulo why another Equestolgoy employee asked her opinion on the color of the cap of a new medicine bottle, she replied, “Dr. Fishman was color blind.”
She also said that in conversations with Fishman, it was difficult to know what he was talking about.
Giannelli told the jury she didn’t know what he meant when he told her about “stem cells” in a 2019 call that was bugged by the FBI.
“He’s rambling and I was just like ‘Yeah,'” Giannelli said. “Dr. Fishman has rambled a lot.”
When asked why she was selling drugs without any labels on the bottle, she replied, “It was my boss’s decision. It was what it was.”
Under cross-examination, prosecutor Sarah Mortazavi asked Giannelli if she knew the difference between prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs.
“My employer did,” the witness said, adding that she now knows the difference.
“But you didn’t at the time?” Mortazavi asked.
“I only know what Dr. Fishman told me,” Giannelli replied.
At another point, Mortazavi asked Giannelli if she suggested any new products for Fishman to make at Equestology.
“Yes,” said the witness.
“So now are you clarifying your live testimony in which you said you didn’t suggest any new products to be made by Seth Fishman?” asked the prosecutor.
“Correct,” testified Giannelli.
As cross-examination began, Mortazavi asked Giannelli about her days working as a groom and trainer on harness tracks decades ago, before she started working for Fishman. Giannelli acknowledged that his license was suspended when a horse tested positive for high TCO2 (total carbon dioxide).
“It was a bicarbonate,” said the witness.
“Is that baking soda?” Mortazavi asked.
“Bicarbonate is what bicarbonate is,” Giannelli told the jury.
Commonly known as “milkshaking”, a prohibited method of artificially raising TCO2 for the purpose of improving a racehorse’s performance involves dosing the horse with sodium ions along with bicarbonate, usually in the form of baking soda.