Legislative audit finds Horsemen Association misspent over $828K - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Legislative audit finds Horsemen Association misspent over $828K

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New Orleans, La. -

Trips, gifts, food and alcohol were all part of a lavish lifestyle that the state says amounted to misspending.

The state legislative auditor just released its report on the state's Horsemen Benevolent Association.  Two people are already serving jail time, and the new leadership is taking steps to clean up its policies.

It is an agency that gets millions of dollars in proceeds from horse track betting and video poker machines, but between 2006 and 2010, misspending was rampant.

Now, a report by the Louisiana legislative auditor details how the Horsemen's Benevolent Association improperly used $828,000 in public funds for things like diamond cufflinks, lobster dinners, bottles of wine, spa services, and trips.

Current Association President Stanley Seelig said, "They were running all these entities as one company, and spending the money wherever they chose to."

There were $7000 trips to Arizona resorts; $8500 spent to go to Las Vegas; even carnival stand rentals, with $1.1 million coming out of a medical trust fund created to compensate track workers for illness and injury.  Seelig says the medical trust didn't have the cash to pay off benefits and was taking up to six months to pay off providers.

The report also shows that former president Sean Alfortish, now serving four years in jail, paid himself over $395,000 for work he didn't perform.

The fraud was uncovered by Tammy Broussard, who four years ago decided she could no longer tolerate her boss's unlawful acts.

"My client Tammy Broussard was a whistleblower," said her attorney, Vinnie Mosca.

Broussard, who went along on many trips, was asked to rig the election for board officers so that Alfortish and others could stay in power, and continue their misspending.

Mosca said, "She took the info she had, which was a bunch of ballots, they asked her to leave Louisiana and go outside the state and mail them from another state, but instead she turned them over to the government."

The feds went after Alfortish and former director Mona Romero, who ultimately pleaded guilty. "I'm sure there were a lot of horsemen and trainers who worked at the track who lost a lot of benefits because of what was going on," said Mosca.

Now the association has a new president, who's been working closely with the legislative auditor to put the association's financial house back in order. Seelig said, "We have instituted travel policies, expenditure policies to make sure these things don't happen in the future."

Seelig stepped up because he didn't like the old board's direction, and he's determined to keep things on the right track for years to come.

Romero got 13  years in prison. And Alfortish was sentenced to nearly four years in jail last year.

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