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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 6, 2014
Campaign Worker Pleads Guilty to Buying Votes in a Donna, Texas School Board Election

A campaign worker pleaded guilty today for paying voters to vote in the November 2012 school board election in Donna, Texas, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Guadalupe Escamilla, 72, of Weslaco, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of vote-buying before Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa in the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 29, 2014.

According to a factual statement read during the plea hearing, a general election was held on Nov. 6, 2012, in Donna for the presidential election, as well as various state, county and local offices, including the Donna School Board. Escamilla assisted in the campaign to elect candidates to the Donna School Board. In the course of that work, Escamilla knowingly and willfully paid and offered to pay voters for voting in this election. In addition, she indicated during the plea hearing that at least two candidates gave her money to pay to voters for voting in the election.

Two other campaign workers, Rebecca Gonzalez, 44, and Diana Balderas Castaneda, 48, of Donna, Texas, have pleaded guilty to the same charge. Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16, 2014 and Castaneda is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2014.

This case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Monique Abrishami and Jennifer Blackwell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Leo of the Southern District of Texas.

 

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