11/18/2010 7:15PM

Louisiana HBPA president Alfortish indicted for fraud


Sean Alfortish, the president of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and Mona Romero, the organization’s executive director, were charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit mail fraud as part of a 29-count indictment, according to a release issued by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Alfortish did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

The case dates back to a 2008 Louisiana HBPA election in which Alfortish and Romero allegedly conspired with others to "rig the outcome." To be valid, ballots had to bear both a U.S. Postal Service postmark and the Social Security number of an HBPA member eligible to vote, according to the release. Alfortish and Romero were charged with using the Social Security numbers of some members without their "knowledge or consent." The indictment also alleges that Romero and others flew to various cities to mail the falsified ballots.

Alfortish, 43, has been president of the Louisiana HBPA since 2005, while Romero, 52, became executive director the same year. The two were also charged with health care fraud concerning payments out of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Medical Benefit trust account that has allegedly caused payments of some claims to be delayed and led to some coverage being reduced. The indictment also alleges a wire fraud scheme tied to distribution of relief funds after Hurricane Katrina.

If convicted of the 29 counts, Alfortish and Romero face maximum penalties of 280 years in prison and $7.25 million in fines, according the release. Letten said in a statement that the investigation is ongoing.

Letten’s offices also announced that Louisiana HBPA employee Cricket Romero, 50, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit identity fraud tied to the 2008 election. It is alleged that she mailed falsified ballots from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Ky. If convicted, Cricket Romero faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The Louisiana HBPA’s main offices are in New Orleans.