09/22/2011 4:28PM

Cricket Romero gets probation, home detention in fraud case

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Cindy "Cricket" Romero, a former employee of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, was sentenced Thursday to three years probation with the special condition of six months home detention for her role in a mail fraud case involving the organization’s 2008 election. She also was fined $3,000, according to a statement issued by the office of U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

Romero, 50, pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft. She faced a maximum of five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. But because of her plea early in the case and a willingness to work with investigators, prosecutors filed a motion for probation, according to the statement. She was sentenced in a federal court in New Orleans.

Romero was the first of three people to plead guilty in an array of charges stemming from the mail fraud case. Sean Alfortish, the former president of the Louisiana HBPA, has a Dec. 15 sentencing date. Mona Romero, the organization’s former executive director who is related by marriage to Cricket Romero, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 27.

Cricket Romero admitted to conspiring with Alfortish, who was running for his second term as president of the Louisiana HBPA, and Mona Romero, to rig the outcome of the Louisiana HBPA election. She conspired to identify which of the organization’s members were unlikely to vote, helped falsify ballots that included members’ Social Security numbers, and then traveled to different cities in order to mail those ballots. According to court documents, Cricket Romero flew to multiple cities on March 21, 2008. There were falsified ballots mailed from Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas.

Alfortish pleaded guilty last month to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, identity fraud, and health-care fraud. He faces as many as five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines. A 29-count indictment against Alfortish and Mona Romero, who earlier this year pleaded guilty in the case, was returned by a federal grand jury in November 2010.

Cricket Romero is married to the former jockey Randy Romero, a Hall of Fame member.