Sean Alfortish, former president of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, pled guilty Aug. 31 in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, identity fraud, and health-care fraud.
Alfortish was president of the horsemen’s group from 2005-10. He had been charged along with Mona Romero, formerly executive director of the Louisiana HBPA, in a 29-count indictment.
Earlier this year Romero and Cindy Romero, former farm and field director for the Louisiana HBPA, pled guilty to conspiracy in the case.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in a statement said Alfortish faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 15, Letten said.
Alfortish admitted that he and others conspired to rig the outcome of the 2008 Louisiana HBPA election in which he was running for a second term of office.
“An object of the conspiracy was to re-elect Alfortish as president and to elect new board members selected by Alfortish to replace certain members of the board of directors of the HBPA who had questioned his management of the HBPA during his first term of office,” court documents said.
In order to be counted as valid, ballots had to bear a U.S. Postal Service postmark and the envelope had to bear the Social Security number of a Louisiana HBPA member eligible to vote in the election. Alfortish admitted that while preparing and casting the fraudulent ballots, the co-conspirators used the Social Security numbers of HBPA members without their knowledge and consent.
Three individuals flew to various cities in four states—Ohio, Kentucky, Florida and Texas—to mail falsified election ballots with Alfortish’s knowledge and direction, court documents said.
As for the Horsemen’s Medical Benefit Trust, which receives statutorily dedicated funds from racing proceeds to operate a medical benefit plan for horsemen. Alfortish admitted he diverted funds under the guise of administrative expenses of the trust.