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Indictments in petition forgery case

Whoa.

Four political campaign workers have been indicted by a Harris County Grand Jury in the wake of allegations of election fraud in a Harris County Justice of the Peace race, first reported by Local 2 News in January.

The suspects — two men and two women — were paid to gather signatures to place Republican candidate Leonila Olivares Salazar’s name on the ballot in the Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Place 2 race.

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The indictments, handed down Monday, come about two weeks after Salazar’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Judge George Risner, sued to have her name withdrawn from the ballot.

As first reported by Local 2, Risner obtained signed statements from three of the suspects admitting they did not actually obtain the signatures listed on the petitions.

Risner said his investigation shows that 380 of 447 signatures submitted to put Salazar’s name on the ballot were forged.

The indictments name campaign workers 57-year-old Ralph Basil Garcia, 53-year-old Annette Irigoyen, 28-year-old Iris Irgoyen and 55-year-old David Basurto. All face felony charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and tampering with a governmental record.

See here for the background. As we know, a Beaumont judge is hearing the lawsuit to determine if Risner’s opponent Salazar should be declared ineligible for the ballot. He has announced that he’s waiting till the other folks that have been indicted have turned themselves in, so they are all available to testify. Meanwhile, the County Attorney is supposed to be doing its own investigation, but no word on that yet. Campos has more.

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