SARATOGA SPRINGS — Chad Brown, one of the top Thoroughbred trainers in North America, was arraigned in Saratoga Springs City Court on Thursday morning on a charge of “criminal obstruction of breathing” stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident at his home Wednesday night.
Saratoga County assistant district attorney Kayla Potter told Judge Francine Vero that, “It is the People’s position today that the supporting documentation alleges that the alleged victim in this case was pushed downstairs and into the floor and was choked at that time.”
Vero identified the alleged victim as Carol Fisher, an assistant to trainer Danny Gargan, while issuing an order of protection against Brown that does allow for incidental contact, since Brown and Fisher both work at Saratoga Race Course on a daily basis.
Brown’s attorney, Joseph M. Gerstenzang, entered a plea of not guilty, and Brown, who appeared in a black Pink Floyd t-shirt, black-and-gray camo shorts and black moccasins with his wrists cuffed and shackled to a belt, was released on $2,500 bail.
He’s scheduled to be formally charged back at City Court on Friday, Sept. 2, four days before the current Saratoga Race Course meet ends.
According to the Saratoga Springs Police Department, the incident occurred around 11 p.m. Wednesday involving the 43-year-old Brown and “an acquaintance known to him.”
Brown, a Mechanicville native who has won four Eclipse Awards since 2016 as most outstanding trainer in North America, was arrested, charged with a Class A misdemeanor and spent the might in city jail.
During the arraignment, which lasted 20 minutes, Vero cut off Gerstenzang more than once for attempting to paint the alleged victim as “the perpetrator” in the incident.
Photos from court Thursday:
Vero initially issued a full “stay-away” order of protection, but amended that to allow for incidental contact. A violation of the order of protection could lead to a criminal contempt of court charge, the judge said.
Brown must also surrender any firearms that he has access to or possesses to the Saratoga Springs police.
“The reason for the order of protection, as you both know, this is a domestic violence matter, and criminal obstruction of breathing is one of the most serious misdemeanor charges involving domestic violence,” Vero said.
“Also, based upon the allegation and the supporting deposition, there are physical injuries, hence the need for a full stay-away order of protection. Mr. Brown, this means you can have no contact or communication whatsoever with Ms. Fisher. Home, school, place of business, place of employment, you cannot have a third party contact her on your behalf.
“I’m going to put something in here called a ‘carve-out’ for incidental contact at the Saratoga Race Course for purposes of employment. This means that only incidental contact is permitted. So if you run into the victim at the track, you see her there, it’s not going to be a violation of this order of protection.”
Brown has won the Saratoga training championship for most victories at a meet four times since 2016 and is well on his way to winning a fifth during the current meet.
Patrick McKenna, New York Racing Association vice president, communications, released the following statement:
“NYRA is aware of the charge brought against trainer Chad Brown today and will defer additional comment on this matter to the Saratoga Springs Police Department.”
In May of 2019, Brown agreed to pay more than $1.6 million in illegally withheld overtime wages, back pay and penalties stemming from an investigation into payroll practices by the U.S. Labor Department.
He was also among several trainers who came under the scrutiny of the New York State Department of Labor that year and paid over $500,000 in back pay, damages and penalties.
He does not have any criminal history, though, which Judge Vero took into consideration during Thursday’s arraignment.
“My client fully intends to contest these charges,” Gerstenzang said.
“Obviously, Mr. Brown is innocent until proven guilty,” Vero said. “He can explore any defense that you may have, but based upon the charge and according to the deposition, there is clearly probable cause to support this charge.”
“While the People do understand that the defendant does have no criminal history, one of the factors to be considered alongside the fact that this is a qualifying offense is whether the charge that is alleged to have occurred caused serious harm to an individual,” Potter said.