FORMER HBPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT MAIL FRAUD, WIRE FRAUD, AND IDENTITY FRAUD
MONA HEBERT ROMERO, age 53, a former resident of Metairie, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Eldon E. Fallon to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and identity fraud, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten. ROMERO, who served as executive director of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HPBA) from 2005 until 2010, previously was charged along with co-defendant SEAN ALFORTISH in a 29-count indictment.
According to court documents, ROMERO was selected as the HBPA’s executive director in 2005 after ALFORTISH was elected to his first term of office as president of the HBPA, which is designated as the official representative of horsemen in the State. In today’s guilty plea, ROMERO admitted that she and others conspired to rig the outcome of the 2008 HBPA election in which ALFORTISH was running for a second term of office. They sought to re-elect ALFORTISH as president and to elect new board members selected by ALFORTISH and ROMERO to replace certain members of the board of directors of the HBPA who had questioned their management of the HBPA during ALFORTISH’s first term of office.
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 an HBPA member eligible to vote in the election. ROMERO admitted that while preparing and casting the fraudulent ballots, she and others used the Social Security numbers of HBPA members without their knowledge and consent. ROMERO admitted that she and two other individuals flew to various cities in four states, Ohio, Kentucky, Florida and Texas, to mail falsified election ballots.
On her plea of guilty, ROMERO faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years imprisonment, and/or a $250,000 in fines, and a $100 special assessment.
Sentencing has been scheduled for October 27, 2011, before Judge Fallon. ALFORTISH is scheduled for trial beginning September 6, 2011.
The case is being investigated by agents from the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Dallas Regional Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Eileen Gleason, G. Dall Kammer, and Patrice Harris Sullivan.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org