Four arrested on charges of illegal voting in Starr County

RIO GRANDE CITY — Four people were arrested Tuesday for illegally voting in elections held throughout 2016.

Investigators with the Starr County Special Crimes Unit located and arrested Rigoberto Vela, 47; Oscar Ivan Peña, 23; and Reynaldo Moreno, 48, who allegedly cast votes despite being on felony probation, according to Robert Caples, commander of the special crimes unit.

A fourth individual, Rogelio Garcia, 42, who is also accused of voting while on felony probation, later turned himself in to the unit.

All four were charged with illegal voting, a second-degree felony.

The votes were allegedly cast in four different elections in 2016 — the Democratic March primary election, a primary runoff election in May, a municipal election for the city of Roma, and a municipal election for the city of Escobares, Caples said.

The arrests followed a review of registration records that the county elections department had turned over to the district attorney’s office and are part of a larger investigation into voter fraud that began in January.

The investigation was launched after the elections department alerted the district attorney’s office of questionable applications for mail-in ballots. Since then, three people have been arrested on charges of election fraud and fraudulent application for ballot by mail.

Those applications were submitted for the primary elections for which early voting began on Tuesday.

The four arrests for illegal voting on Tuesday were the first arrests in the current investigation made in reference to past elections.

“If anyone wants to look into election fraud, this is an investigation that could go on for the next couple of years,” Caples said. “People can say that election fraud doesn’t exist but maybe it’s because they don’t want to look.”