His legal debt to society paid in full, Sean Alfortish wants back in the horse racing game.
The response from state racing officials: Whoa, Nelly.
Alfortish spent 28 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2011 to conspiracy to commit various types of fraud, admitting he rigged the elections of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and, as president, spent its funds on personal gifts, travel and other perks.
Now he's suing the Louisiana State Racing Commission, claiming its leaders are violating their own rules by stalling his bid for a license to again own racehorses.
Alfortish, a former magistrate judge in Kenner, wants an Orleans Parish Civil District Court judge to order the commission to let him seek a license from the Louisiana State Stewards without interference.
In a legal filing last week, his attorney, Lionel Sutton, said Alfortish "was completely released from any and all obligations" when U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon ended his probation nine months early on Dec. 5, 2016.
Alfortish, 50, also fulfilled a $105,000 restitution order, court records show.
He approached the commission in September, asking to be placed on its agenda for a license to own thoroughbreds. He pressed the issue again in November, but the commission's assistant executive director, Larry Munster, turned him away.
Munster pointed to a commission rule that says convicted felons must wait two years from the end of their sentence to apply, according to the lawsuit.
But the rules say the waiting period doesn't apply to horsemen licensed in other states, allowing the stewards discretion to grant a Louisiana license "via reciprocity."
So Alfortish headed to Texas, securing a license there under rules allowing felons to apply five years after entering their pleas. Alfortish pleaded guilty in August 2011.
The Louisiana stewards, however, punted to the commission, whose leaders have since ignored Alfortish, the lawsuit claims.
The commission "has restrained the right of free trade by not allowing Mr. Alfortish to run his horses in Louisiana," the lawsuit says. It asks for a court order forcing the commission to let the stewards alone decide.
"I've always had horse ownership as a hobby," Alfortish said Wednesday. "I'm not even saying I'm going to get a horse, but I'd like the opportunity." He said his previous license expired before he went to prison.
A message to the commission's executive director, Charles Gardiner III, went unreturned Wednesday.
The case was assigned to Civil District Judge Robin Giarrusso.
The $105,000 restitution figure for Alfortish amounted to a fraction of some $800,000 in suspect horsemen's group spending that a state audit later identified over a five-year period under his watch.
The agency receives a 6 percent cut of racing purses, in part to pay for pension, worker's compensation and medical benefits for horsemen.
The legislative audit flagged spa treatments, plush hotel lodging, Carnival parade stand rentals and political fundraising for former Gov. Bobby Jindal, among other dubious expenses under Alfortish.
With his guilty plea, Alfortish also admitted he received $25,000 in association funds as "back pay" a month after settling a sexual harassment grievance for the same sum.
But in a 2011 lawsuit, Alfortish blamed the horsemen's group, its insurers, auditors and others for landing him in hot water, alleging negligence and malpractice for failing to flag possible legal troubles from a longstanding practice of shifting money among association funds.
He said Wednesday that he won that lawsuit, settling for a confidential amount that covered his restitution order.
"I never paid a dollar," he said.
Others pleaded guilty as well. Mona Hebert Romero admitted to a fraud conspiracy and received a 13-month prison sentence. Her sister-in-law, Cindy "Cricket" Romero, received three months of probation.