Another arrest made in Starr County voter fraud case

A third person has been arrested in Starr County’s ongoing investigation into voter fraud.

A third person has been arrested in Starr County’s ongoing investigation into voter fraud.

Belinda Garcia, 45, turned herself in to the Starr County Special Crimes Unit Tuesday afternoon, confirmed 229th District Attorney Omar Escobar.

Garcia was charged with one count of election fraud and one count of fraudulent application for ballot by mail.

Escobar said this was another case of an application for a mail-in ballot indicating the voter is disabled. However in Garcia’s case, the district attorney said more than one voter was identified so more charges could be forthcoming.

“We’ve tried to educate people and warn people about these new laws as of December of last year,” Escobar said Tuesday night, referring to changes to the state’s election code which went into effect Dec. 1, 2017. “But apparently some people just refuse to follow these new laws.”

Garcia was released that same day after posting bond, according to her attorney, Abel Villarreal Jr.

“She’s presumed innocent until proven otherwise,” Villarreal said Wednesday morning. He added that most of the information he’s received about the allegations against his client is from media reports.

“I’ve yet to receive any formal information as far as specific charges and affidavits or warrants, which is pretty troublesome,” he said.

The charges against Garcia are the same faced by the first two people arrested in the investigation last week.

Ernestina Barron, 50, and Erika Lozano Pelayo, 37, were also arrested on charges of election fraud and fraudulent application for ballot by mail — a Class A misdemeanor and a state jail felony, respectively.

Amid reports of the arrests, the Texas attorney general’s office issued a letter to the DA’s office on Monday offering support in the investigation.

Escobar said he initially reached out to their office in December for guidance in determining the applicability of the new election laws.