UPDATED: Ninth person arrested in 2017 Edinburg election probe
Update at 5:40 p.m.
A ninth person was arrested late Thursday afternoon for alleged voter fraud committed during the 2017 Edinburg municipal election.
Ruby Tamez, 31, was arrested by investigators with the Texas Attorney General’s Office on a second-degree felony illegal voting charge.
She listed her address as 2416 E. Rogers Rd. Apt. No. 10 on her voter registration application, according to a criminal complaint, despite evidence suggesting she owns and lives at a home in the 8000 block of Copa De Oro Street in Edinburg, which is outside city limits.
Three of Tamez’ siblings were previously arrested on the same charge, the most recent being Cynthia Tamez, who was arrested earlier in the day. Maria San Juanita Aleman and Francisco Tamez Jr. were arrested in late May and early June respectively. All listed the Rogers Road address on their voter registration applications and “each changed their voter registration residential address to the same 2416 East Rogers Road, Apartment #10, Edinburg, Texas residence within eight days of (Ruby) changing (her) voter registration address to said address,” the criminal complaint states.
The apartment complex, which is owned by Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and his brother, is managed by the sibling’s sister, according to information Donna Tamez provided to The Monitor in the wake of a March 18 migrant stash house bust at one of the complex’s apartments.
Ruby Tamez cast a ballot during the early voting period for the Nov. 7, 2017 Edinburg municipal election, according to Hidalgo County Elections Department records, the complaint states.
Two more women were arrested Thursday afternoon for alleged voter fraud during the 2017 Edinburg municipal election, bringing Thursday’s total arrests up to eight.
Cynthia Tamez, 32, and Guadalupe Sanchez Garza, 46, were arrested by investigators with the Texas Attorney General’s Office on charges of illegal voting, a second-degree felony offense.
Tamez allegedly changed her address to 2416 E Rogers Rd. Apt. No. 10 in Edinburg, according to her criminal complaint, when in actuality she lived in the 5500 block of Eleanor Street from May 31, 2016 through “at least” July 17, 2018, an address outside the city limits.
Tamez and Garza voted during the early voting period before the Nov. 7, 2017 election in which Mayor Richard Molina unseated longtime Mayor Richard Garcia, according to Hidalgo County Elections Department records.
Tamez’s sister, Maria San Juanita Aleman, and brother, Francisco Tamez Jr., were arrested for the same charge in May and June respectively for having changed their voter registration address to the same Rogers Road apartment.
The apartment complex is owned by Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and his brother. Tamez’ sister, Donna Tamez, previously told The Monitor she and her husband helped manage the apartments.
Garza allegedly changed her address to 411 W. Cano St. in Edinburg, according to his criminal complaint, despite driver’s license, vehicle registration and Texas Workforce Commission records listing her residence as being in the 5600 block of Gardenia St., which is located outside city limits.
The Cano Street address is the home of Garza’s parents-in-law. Her husband’s relative, who allegedly worked for an unnamed political campaign, “solicited” her to change her address, the criminal complaint states.
Investigators with the Texas Attorney General’s Office arrested a sixth person Thursday in connection with alleged voter fraud in last year’s Edinburg municipal election.
Jerry Gonzalez Jr., 33, is in custody for allegedly voting illegally. According to his criminal complaint, Gonzalez allegedly switched his voter registration address last year in order to be eligible to vote in Edinburg.
On his voter registration card, he indicated he lived at 2503 Wolverine St. in Edinburg. Gonzalez, however, lives in Pharr, where he co-owns a home in the 1000 block of East Alan Street, investigators said.
In total, 11 people have been arrested and charged with alleged voter fraud in Edinburg since May.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office conducted a second round of arrests in connection with alleged voter fraud in Edinburg Thursday morning, according to multiple sources close to the investigation.
Brenda Rodriguez, Belinda Rodriguez, Rosendo Rodriguez, Felisha Rodriguez and Araceli Gutierrez are all in custody, waiting to be interviewed by investigators, working alongside Texas Rangers.
The arrests come almost six months after investigators with the AG’s office arrested five other people accused of voting illegally in the Edinburg municipal election in November 2017.
The arrests are also all connected to a home located at 409 E. Fay St. in Edinburg. The residence has been making headlines since earlier this year, when former Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Mary Alice Palacios filed a complaint with the Texas Secretary’s Office, alleging eight of the 11 people registered to vote there did not live at that location.
Investigators previously arrested one of the alleged inhabitants of the 751-square-foot home. Crystal Lee Ponce, 28, faced illegal voting charges in May because she cast a ballot while still being under probation for a felony conviction for transporting an undocumented immigrant within the U.S.
The five arrests on Thursday stemmed from an investigation of a family’s alleged scheme to vote illegally in the municipal election. According to criminal complaints for the five people in custody, Araceli Gutierrez, who “worked on political campaigns with Brenda Rodriguez,” was renting the home on Fay Street.
Gutierrez allegedly gave permission to four family members that lived outside the Edinburg voting jurisdiction to change their voter information, to indicate that they were residents there, in order to be eligible to vote.