Grand jury issues indictment in Dallas voter fraud case

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on March 28, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 29 at 4:23 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS — News 8 has learned that a member of the politically powerful Medrano family in Dallas has been indicted for illegal voting.

The charge, a third degree felony, stems from a News 8 investigation last year into alleged voting irregularities in a race involving newly-elected Justice of the Peace Carlos Medrano.

After Medrano won the election by just more than 100 votes over incumbent Luis Sepulveda, we found case after case of mail-in ballots that had been allegedly harvested by mystery campaign workers who never registered, as required by law.

We also obtained records showing that two of Medrano's nieces — Veronica and Raquel Medrano — had registered and voted at a Dallas address when they really lived in Mesquite.

Soon after our investigation, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott began his own inquiry.

A Rockwall grand jury handling the case has now issued an indictment for the second niece, 21-year-old Raquel Medrano, for knowingly casting an illegal vote.

Veronica Medrano has since testified she was coerced by her uncle, Justice Medrano, to register and vote illegally. It is a charge that Medrano has denied.

But the Medrano campaign has also been accused of improperly harvesting mail-in ballots from elderly voters, an accusation he has since been cleared of.

Still, former Judge Sepulveda is lobbying state lawmakers in Austin to strengthen the laws governing mail-in ballots. He supports a bill that will prohibit one person from mailing in more than two ballots, and bumps the penalty up to a felony.

He said it will help reduce vote harvesting. "I don't think it's going to eliminate it completely, but I think it's going to be in the right direction," Sepulveda said.

And for the first time since he lost his election last year, Sepulveda believes justice is about to be served.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

 

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