Six women held on voter fraud charges connected to 2012 election - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Six women held on voter fraud charges connected to 2012 election

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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 10:15 pm

Complaints filed after a 2012 election led to the Wednesday arrests of six women accused of committing a combined 35 election violations.

A spokesman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office said he could not say which races were involved in the case because the investigation is ongoing.

The AG’s office was also tight-lipped about whether there would be more arrests in relation to the multi-agency investigation.

AG investigators, along with authorities with the FBI and Cameron County District Attorney’s office located and arrested six suspects Wednesday suspected of violating the Texas Election Code.

The allegations stem from complaints made after the 2012 runoff election, which was held on July 31 that year.

The 2012 Democratic primary runoff election propelled Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz into office over Carlos Masso, who finished first in the primary held just months prior.

Another hotly contested race during that election featured Erin H. Garcia, who defeated Yolanda Teran Begum in the Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, Place 2 race.

There were also runoff races for Precinct No. 2 constable; Precinct No. 5 constable; and Democrat chairman for precincts 62 and 73.

Additionally, during that primary, both Republicans and Democrats competed in a runoff for the newly-created District 34 House of Representatives seat.

Those charged with multiple violations on Wednesday were Sara Perales, 51, Bernice Garcia, 29, Margarita Ozuna, 63, Vicenta Verno, 52, and Tomas Chavez, 85.

Perales was charged with one carrier envelope violation and one marked ballot return violation; Garcia was charged with one carrier envelope violation, one marked ballot return violation and one unlawful assistance to voter violation; Ozuna was charged with three carrier envelope violations and three marked ballot return violations; Verino was accused of committing one unlawful assistance to voter violation, one assisting voter violation, four carrier envelope violations and four marked ballot return violations and Chavez was charged with three carrier envelope violations, three assisting voter violations, three marked ballot return violations and four unlawful assistance to voter violations.

Facunda Garcia, 55, Bernice’s mother, was charged with giving unlawful assistance to a voter.

This is Ozuna’s second arrest on charges related to voter fraud. She pleaded no contest in 2013 to an election violation charge associated with the 2010 primaries.

While the charges are all misdemeanors, certain conditions — if present — can elevate them to state jail felonies.

For instance, if more than one misdemeanor is tied to the same voter or ballot or if 20 or more ballots are improperly carried, the crimes can be considered felonious.

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