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Press Release

Three Campaign Workers Charged with Buying Votes
in a Donna, Texas School Board Election

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A campaign worker was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas for allegedly paying voters to vote in a Donna, Texas school board election. Two other campaign workers were indicted on similar charged last week for alleged vote-buying in the election.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas made the announcement.

The three indictments charge Donna residents Diana Balderas Castaneda, 48; Guadalupe Zapata Escamilla, 72; and Rebecca Gonzalez, 44, with one count each of vote-buying. They face a maximum penalty of five years in prison upon conviction.

According to the indictments, a general election was held in Donna on Nov. 6, 2012, which included candidates for the presidential election, as well as for various state, county and local offices, including Donna School Board. The three defendants are alleged to have assisted in the campaign to elect the Democratic candidates to the Donna School Board. In the course of that work, the three women are accused of knowingly and willfully paying and offering to pay voters for voting in this election.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI. 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 are prosecuting the case.


Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 14-064