Horse trainer pushed woman down stairs, tried to choke her, prosecutor says

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Thoroughbred horse trainer Chad C. Brown spent the night in the city jail after he pushed a woman downstairs at his home, pinned her to the floor and tried to choke her before throwing her out of the house, Assistant District Attorney Kayla Potter told a judge Thursday morning.

Brown, who was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of breathing, was shackled and wearing shorts, a Pink Floyd T-shirt and bedroom slippers when he was arraigned by Judge Francine Vero. The judge called the domestic violence charge “serious,” saying the victim suffered injuries.

Brown pleaded not guilty to the charge. His attorney, Joseph Gerstenzang, entered the plea on Brown’s behalf.

The trainer said little in court, but his attorney argued that it was not Brown’s fault and blamed the alleged victim because she entered Brown’s home on Doten Avenue while he was asleep.

“The wrong person was arrested here,” Gerstenzang said. “It was a home invasion. She entered my client’s home. (She) in fact was the perpetrator. She came in the middle of the night, woke him up physically and attacked him. While defending his girlfriend and himself, these allegations allegedly occurred .”

He also complained that the victim, who is also a horse trainer, was wearing a hoodie and a baseball cap.

Vero admonished the attorney, saying “the court is not in the business of blaming domestic violence victims.”

Gerstenzang corrected her, saying “alleged victim,” and Vero restated saying “alleged victim, excuse me.”

The arresting document filed in the court indicates that she went to Brown’s house after trying to reach him several times. She called Brown her on/off significant other. Upon entering the house, which she had a key for, she went into his bedroom and found him in bed with a woman. She said that is when she was pushed down the stairs and pinned to the floor before he tried to strangle her and push her out of the door.

The incident happened at about 11:10 pm Wednesday.

Brown was released around noon from custody after posting $2,500 bail. He was ordered to give up any firearms and his pistol permit if he has one. Vero also issued a stay-away order with a carveout if they meet by chance at the Saratoga Race Course.

A high-profile trainer of race horses, the 43-year-old Brown grew up in Mechanicville. He’s been a presence in racing for years. He reached 2,000 wins for his career last summer. In 2018, Brown set the all-time record for wins by a horse trainer at Saratoga. NYRA spokesman Patrick McKenna said Brown has 419 wins there.

In 2019, Brown agreed to pay more than $1.6 million in illegally withheld overtime wages, back pay, and penalties, according to the US Labor Department. Brown, owner of Mechanicville-based Chad Brown Racing, admitted that between December 2014 and August 2017, his company filed falsified time sheets and underpaid about 150 groomers and horse walkers at his facilities at Saratoga and at Belmont Park Race Track in Nassau County.

A federal investigation into Brown’s operation also found it was underpaying foreign workers under the H-2B non-immigrant visa program.

Brown also agreed to set up a visa compliance officer at his company to prevent future violations, under a judgment filed May 13 in the US District Court on Long Island.

In 2009, he was among 10 horsemen fined by the state for not paying workers the overtime rate for every hour per week above 40. At the time, Brown, who was also cited for not keeping payroll records, said the investigation is a waste of taxpayer money that actually resulted in lower payments to his barn workers.

“I switched my payroll system to go by their guidelines and my payroll actually went down,” Brown said then. He paid an unspecified sum to the department for the violations.

His labor problems prompted Mechanicville High School seniors to protest an administrator’s invitation to Brown to give the 2019 graduation keynote speech. At the time, one senior said, “we don’t want him representing us.” The administration dismissed students’ concerns and allowed him to speak in a ceremony, which due to the controversy, was closed to the general public.

Brown is scheduled to appear again in Saratoga Springs City Court on Friday, Sept. 2.

Brendan J. Lyons contributed to this article.

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