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Justice News

Department of Justice
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Monday, May 5, 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 Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Diana Balderas Castaneda, 48, of Donna, pleaded guilty to one count of vote-buying before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa in the Southern District of Texas. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 25, 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. Balderas assisted in the campaign to elect four candidates to the Donna School Board. In the course of that work, Balderas knowingly and willfully paid and offered to pay voters for voting in this election. In addition, at least two campaign managers paid voters in her presence.

Another campaign worker, Rebecca Gonzalez, 44, also of Donna, pleaded guilty to the same charge before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane in the Southern District of Texas on Feb. 14, 2014. She is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 16, 2014.

This case was investigated by the FBI. Trial Attorneys Monique Abrishami and Jennifer Blackwell of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Leo of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.



Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014