In a 4Investigates follow-up, Channel 4 has obtained a letter from a federal defendant that could backfire at his upcoming sentencing.
Federal authorities have been alerted to the email written by former Kenner magistrate judge Sean Alfortish, who is awaiting his punishment after pleading guilty to defrauding the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
In his plea deal last summer, Alfortish admitted rigging an election to regain a second term as LHBPA president and raiding the association’s accounts for lavish perks.
But in his email message urging supporters to write character letters on his behalf, Alfortish suggests he is innocent and was forced to plead guilty.
In the email letter, Alfortish wrote, “Aside from the fact that I was not guilty of the many things which were said about me, I had to take the plea deal in the best interest of my 8-year-old daughter. I never stole anything from anyone and never would have. These are facts that can be proven, but the government continues to try and place blame on me when they have documents to the contrary….which proves my innocence.”
Loyola Law Professor professor Dane Ciolino said could lead to a stiffer penalty for Alfortish – or even scuttle his plea deal – because acceptance of responsibility is a major factor in calculating federal sentences.
“It’s kind of unusual now to see someone trying to back away from that,” Ciolino said. “The danger, from his standpoint, is that (acceptance of responsibility) is one of the principal carrots any defendant pursues in entering a guilty plea to get a reduction in his sentence.”
Alfortish, who is to be sentenced on Feb. 2, could not be reached for comment.