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Pelling testimony in Brooks' trial

March 02, 2010

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Steve Kallas, a New York attorney, longtime Standardbred owner, and correspondent for The Horseman and Fair World magazine, is covering the trial of David Brooks, and offers the final analysis of testimony given by trainer Brett Pelling:
On Thursday afternoon, Feb. 25, Brett Pelling took the witness stand in the federal courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y., as a government witness in the case of United States v. Brooks. Mr. Pelling testified “out of order” (that is, another witness’s testimony was interrupted to meet Mr. Pelling’s schedule) to accommodate his travel plans as he had arrived in the United States on Sunday, Feb. 21, and was to leave on Friday, Feb. 26, the day after his testimony, to return to Australia where he presently lives with his family.  Harnessracing.com has obtained a copy of that testimony (all quotes are from the trial transcript).    




Mr. Pelling’s response to prosecutor Richard Lunger’s first question (“Can you tell the jury what your profession is?”) was interesting: “I am–I was a horse trainer.” He then went on to state that he was “leading trainer at the Meadowlands seven times, leading money winner trainer in the industry.” He also stated that the last time he trained horses was in New Jersey in 2005 (he never did tell the jury what his profession is today).


The focus then turned to David Brooks. Mr. Pelling testified that he trained horses for David Brooks from 1999-2005. He stated that he trained five horses for Mr. Brooks that made at least $1,000,000. When asked who paid him to train these horses, Mr. Pelling replied, “Tactical Armor, Perfect World Enterprises.”
When asked how much business he transacted with Mr. Brooks from 1999 through 2005, Mr. Pelling answered, “It would be approximately $2 million.” He then stated that he received checks from Tactical Armor Products (TAP) in the amount of “$974,567.25.”
One specific check that the government focused on was a TAP check, made out to Brett Pelling Stables, in the amount of $65,342.45. It was signed by Terry Brooks, the former wife of David Brooks. There was conflicting or unclear testimony as to whether Mr. Pelling knew that Terry Brooks was the owner of TAP (the defense position is that TAP was a privately-owned company and that Terry Brooks could do whatever she wanted with the millions of dollars of profit that was made by TAP, including supporting the horse business of David Brooks). On cross-examination, Richard Levitt, an attorney for Mr. Brooks, asked Mr. Pelling, “Well, did you ever tell a representative of the Australian federal police that it was your understanding that Terry Brooks owned TAP?” Mr. Pelling answered, “That would be correct.” Clearly the scope of this trial has gone worldwide.



When asked on cross whether TAP owned any horses that Mr. Pelling trained, he said, “The horses that I trained, I really can’t recall.”  He was then, essentially, asked the same question again and answered, “I know that TAP owned horses. I know that the ones that I had were predominantly Perfect World.” In response to another question, Mr. Pelling testified “There may be one there that was owned by TAP. I’m not sure which one it was.”
Obviously, if the defense can show that Brett Pelling trained a lot of horses owned by TAP, then they can make a case that much of the almost $1 million that TAP paid to Brett Pelling was a legitimate business expense.  However, if Pelling only had one TAP horse, then virtually all of those monies would not have been legitimate business expenses. In that case, the defense will then rely on the notion that Terry Brooks, the owner of TAP, could do whatever she wanted with TAP profits.
Finally, when asked by defense attorney Levitt whether he recalled whether most of the money he received was from Perfect World or TAP, Brett Pelling testified that, “recalling the numbers, I would say it was 50/50, quite even, at $2 millioin. I think I received $900,000 from TAP, so it was relatively even.



When asked at the end of the government’s questions, “Do you know who Glen Hartung is?” Brett Pelling testified that Hartung “is a person who sells different products for horses.”
Expected to testify in the next few weeks, Glen Hartung has been identified by the government in a letter to the judge as a New Jersey State Police informant. His testimony should be very interesting from both a Brooks case and harness racing perspective.




Later on in the same day that Pelling testified, Joseph Giaquinto, the president of NDL Products, Inc. (“NDL,” a subsidiary of DHB Industries, Inc.) took the witness stand. When asked if NDL had any interests in, or connections to, the horse racing industry, Giaquinto answered “no.” When asked separately if NDL had done any business with Carl Conte (the trainer who testified that he received some monies from NDL to train horses for David Brooks), Charlie Karp (the horse agent who testified that he received a $20,000 check from NDL) or Glen Hartung (the New Jersey State Police informant who has yet to testify), Joseph Giaquinto answered ‘no” to each question.
This testimony is for the government in that it arguably shows that these harness horse-related people did things for David Brooks in the horse industry and were paid by NDL, an entity that, according to the government and this testimony, had nothing to do with the harness horse industry.
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