The phantom fog jockey of the Delta Downs race track, accused of hiding his horse in a fog bank and then rushing to victory, has been charged with felony theft by fraud and suspended for the rest of the track's season.
Sylvester Carmouche, 31, was taken into custody Thursday by the State Police criminal investigative division and taken to Lafayette. He was freed after posting $1,500 bond.
The case is expected to be reviewed by the State Racing Commission, which could hand down stiffer sanctions against Carmouche.
Carmouche's suspension will continue until April 1, when the track's meeting ends.
The jockey is accused of using heavy fog to hide his horse, Landing Officer, near the top of the stretch for a mile-long race Jan. 11. It is believed that the jockey remained at that point as eight other horses in the race circled the track, then joined the race as the field approached the final turn.
In one-mile races at Delta Downs, horses start out of a straightaway, pass the grandstand, circle the track once and then finish with a second pass of the grandstand.
Landing Officer won the race by 24 lengths but later was disqualified because stewards and track officials suspected that the horse had not run the entire race.
"It was the unanimous opinion of the stewards that jockey Sylvester Carmouche did not pass by the grandstand the first time," associate steward Frank Mancha said.
"It was pretty foggy," he said.
The victory was so suspect that neither the purse nor wagers were immediately paid out, Mancha said.
"The investigation is still going on," Delta Downs President and General Manager Lee Berwick said Thursday. "That's why we can't release the (race video) tape at this time. The State Police have it as evidence."
Carmouche attorney Kent Schaffer said the jockey will immediately appeal his suspension. Schaffer also expressed doubts about the race videotape.