UPDATE: Edinburg mayor formally indicted on charges related to 2017 municipal elections

Mugshots of Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and his wife Dalia Molina after being charged with illegal voting. (Courtesy photos)

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

A grand jury on Thursday indicted Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and his wife Dalia Molina on charges related to election fraud, Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez confirmed.

Molina was indicted on one count of engaging in organized election fraud, a first degree felony, and 11 counts of illegal voting, a second degree felony.

Dalia Molina was charged with one count of engaging in organized election fraud and two counts of illegal voting.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Texas Attorney General’s office into the city’s November 2017 municipal elections.

There have been 19 arrests in connection with the investigation since May 2018, with the last three being that of the Molinas in April — when they turned themselves in at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s office in Edinburg — and Daniel David Castillo for false statement on a voter registration application, a class B misdemeanor.

Castillo had also turned himself in on May 10.

At the time, Molina was charged with two counts of illegal voting and one count of engaging in organized election fraud, and Dalia Molina was charged with a single count of illegal voting.

The mayor and his wife were released from jail that same day on a $20,000 cash surety bond and a $5,000 cash bond, respectively.

Hidalgo County issued a news release about the indictment Thursday evening, stating that the range of punishment for organized election fraud is five to 99 years, or life in prison, and two to 20 years for illegal voting.

In a city of Edinburg statement, city officials acknowledged being “aware of today’s indictment and additional charges against Mayor Richard Molina,” adding: “These charges do not impact the day to day operations of the city. Our residents can (be) rest assured that they will continue to receive quality services and customer attention. There is no disruption to city business.”

Though pressured to step down after a petition affidavit was filed to have the mayor removed from office, Molina has no plans to resign, according to Edinburg spokesperson Cary Zayas. The same documents were filed for the entire Edinburg City Council during a May 17 meeting, allowing petitioners to collect signatures to recall each member of the council.

Previous coverage

UPDATE: Edinburg approves recall petition forms for entire city council

Here we go again: Edinburg mayor, wife latest to be charged with illegal voting