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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 5, 2014

Campaign Worker Pleads Guilty To Buying Votes In Donna School Board Election

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

Guadalupe Escamilla, 72, of Weslaco, pleaded guilty to one count of vote-buying before Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa. She faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Aug. 29, 2014.

According to a factual statement read during the plea hearing, a general election was held on or about Nov. 6, 2012, in Donna, which included candidates for the presidential election, as well as various state, county and local offices, including the members of 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, have pleaded guilty to the same charge. They are awaiting sentencing.

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

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Updated April 30, 2015