Edinburg city secretary arrested, faces illegal voting charge

The Edinburg city secretary is the latest person indicted on illegal voting charges related to the 2017 municipal election.

Officials with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Ludivina Leal’s arrest Tuesday afternoon in connection with her indictment on an illegal voting charge related to the city of Edinburg’s 2017 mayoral race.

Leal’s indictment, which came down Thursday, and subsequent arrest came weeks after 13 others were indicted by the same Hidalgo County grand jury in the case, documents show. These indictments are related to an investigation launched in May 2018 probing the results of the election.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office, have since made more than 20 arrests in connection with allegations of illegal voting during that election.

Prior to Leal’s arrest Tuesday, the indictments of 13 people believed to be involved in the alleged voting fraud case were made official in mid-August.

Those defendants had all been previously arrested in connection with the investigation into potential fraud in the election, which resulted in Richard Molina unseating then-Mayor Richard Garcia, and were indicted on one count of illegal voting.

Veronica Vela Saenz, 42, Maria San Juanita Aleman, 35, Cynthia Tamez, 32, Ruby Tamez, 31, Francisco Tamez Jr., 33, Crystal Lee Ponce, 28, Guadalupe Sanchez Garza, 46, Belinda Rodriguez, 41, Brenda Rodriguez, 32, Rosendo Rodriguez, 72, Felisha Rodriguez, 23, Jose Ignacio Martinez, 22, and Araceli Montoya Gutierrez, 51, are listed as these defendants.

The indictments come roughly a month after Molina, his wife Dahlia Molina, and another man, Julio Carranza, were also indicted in connection with the AG’s investigation.

All three pleaded not guilty to the illegal voting and election fraud charges during a formal arraignment hearing in July.

The Molinas and Carranza are all due back for a pre-trial hearing in late November, court records show.

All of the indicted defendants face either first- or second-degree felony charges in connection with the investigation.

If convicted of the second-degree felony, illegal voting, the defendants could face two to 20 years in prison. While those facing the election fraud charge, a first-degree felony, face between five and 99 years to life in prison.

Early Tuesday, an employee of Carranza’s was arrested by officials with the AG’s office, according to an official with the District Attorney’s office.

Authorities arrested Alyssa Renae Cano, 35, of Pharr, on the illegal voting charge.

Cano is accused of voting in the 2017 election despite not being eligible to do so.