A Texas jury acquitted a former mayor on 12 counts of election fraud in reference to what prosecutors mentioned was a poll harvesting ring.
After six hours of deliberation Thursday, a Hidalgo County jury acquitted former Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, The Related Press reported.
Molina was discovered not responsible of 1 rely of organized fraud in addition to 11 counts of unlawful voting, all stemming from his 2017 election victory.
The decision got here three years after Texas Rangers arrested Molina in April 2019, together with 18 others, on prices of being a part of a voter fraud conspiracy.
State prosecutors had alleged that Molina and his interior circle tried to persuade voters—some outdoors Edinburg’s jurisdiction—to vary their addresses to locations the place they didn’t reside, together with an condo complicated owned by Molina.
Two different associated trials are nonetheless pending. Molina’s spouse, Dalia, and former enterprise associate Julio Carranza await trial on related prices. Each pleaded not responsible.
Molina testified in his personal protection.
His legal professionals argued that the previous mayor didn’t intend to violate election legal guidelines. They supplied a “mistake of regulation protection,” contending that Molina relied on “affordable authorities” in telling voters they might change their handle to take part in Edinburg elections, The Monitor newspaper, primarily based in neighboring McAllen, Texas, reported.
Edinburg, positioned within the Rio Grande Valley, has a inhabitants of about 90,000. Of about 8,000 votes solid within the mayoral election in 2017, Molina, then a Metropolis Council member, defeated 14-year incumbent Mayor Richard Garcia with a margin of 1,240 votes.
Molina’s victory margin was bigger than the recognized quantity of fraudulent votes, so it’s extremely unlikely that ineligible voters altered the results of the election.
Throughout shut arguments, The Monitor reported, state prosecutor Michael Garza requested jurors: “Does it make sense to you that individuals who reside in McAllen can vote in Edinburg once they don’t reside there? Does it make sense to you that individuals from Russia can come vote on this nation just because they just like the candidate?”
However Molina’s protection lawyer argued, “In the event you evaluation and depend on authorities sources, and also you come to the mistaken conclusion … then in the end the jury should discover not responsible.”
Texas has had quite a few instances of voter fraud up to now. In 2017, the state enacted a ban on poll harvesting, the controversial apply through which political operatives gather absentee ballots from voters. In 2021, Texas additional fortified legal guidelines to limit voter fraud.
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