Downstate residents among defendants in alleged horse scheme

DOVER — Two Delaware residents are among more than two dozen people who have been charged in what federal prosecutors describe as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to make them race faster.

Donato Poliseno of Hartly and Lisa Giannelli of Felton are among those named in four indictments that were unveiled Monday in New York. The defendants include trainers, veterinarians and others in the horse racing industry.

Poliseno, who has been active in Delaware’s harness racing industry, is the owner of Equine Veterinary Supplies in Hartly. He was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

“Give us a few days,” his wife said when reached by telephone.

Prosecutors allege that Poliseno bought and distributed performance-enhancing drugs directly from New York veterinarian Louis Grasso, a codefendant. They also claim that Poliseno used Grasso’s veterinary license to obtain certain chemical components to create his own misbranded and adulterated drugs. Poliseno included a product list in a shipment of drugs he sold to a confidential source who purported to be a horse trainer and was working with law enforcement officials, according to prosecutors.

Giannelli’s business, Equestology Inc., is associated with Florida veterinarian Seth Fishman, who is also among the defendants named in the indictments.

Giannelli was released after a court appearance Monday in Wilmington in which she was represented by a public defender. Giannelli waived her right to a preliminary hearing and consented to an order requiring her to appear in federal court in New York. Attempts to reach her on her home and cellphones Tuesday were unsuccessful.

According to the indictment, Fishman has manufactured and shipped illegally misbranded and adulterated performance-enhancing drugs for several years and marketed and distributed them to racehorse trainers and others in the U.S. and abroad.

Prosecutors allege that Giannelli was a distributor of Fishman’s drugs, operating primarily in and around New York. Her voicemail message provides a number for Fishman in Florida for those attempting to reach him.