Monday, January 10, 2022

REPORT: Carrollton, TX Mayoral Candidate Jailed on 109 Felony Counts in Vote Fraud Case

Source: Dallas News

Published: October 8, 2020

By: Nataly Keomoungkhoun and Marc Ramirez

Updated at 5:32 p.m.: Revised with comment from Carrollton Mayor Kevin Falconer.

A Carrollton mayoral candidate was arrested Wednesday and faces 109 felony charges related to accusations of voter fraud, Denton County authorities said.

Zul Mirza Mohamed, 39, faces 25 counts of unlawful possession of a ballot — all second-degree felonies — and 84 counts of fraudulent use of a mail ballot application — all third-degree felonies. It was unclear Thursday whether he had an attorney.

“If it’s true, it’s certainly disappointing,” said Carrollton Mayor Kevin Falconer, who is seeking another term. “The citizens of Carrollton deserve better than that.”

According to the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation began Sept. 23 after the Denton County Elections Office alerted the sheriff’s office to possible fraud involving absentee ballot applications.

Several absentee ballots were requested to be sent to a Lewisville post office box that allegedly belonged to a nursing home, officials said. When investigators contacted the residents whose names were on the ballots, they learned the residents had not asked that the ballots be sent to the post office box, the sheriff’s office said.

Mail-in absentee ballot materials photographed at the Dallas County Elections Department on Monday, May 18, 2020, in Dallas.

The P.O. box was registered under a fake Texas driver’s license and a University of North Texas student ID, the sheriff’s office said. An undercover officer was placed inside the post office for surveillance.

On Oct. 7, a box of ballots was picked up from the post office by a person, later identified as Mohamed, and investigators followed him to a home in the 1600 block of Bennington Drive in Carrollton. After obtaining a search warrant, officers found the fake driver’s license and the box of ballots, including several that had been opened, in Mohamed’s bedroom, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a message asking if any of the ballots had been cast. But Mohamed was not charged with casting ballots.

Mohamed was arrested and was being held in the Denton County jail. A second-degree felony carries a two- to 20-year prison sentence with a possible fine of up to $10,000. A third-degree felony carries a two- to 10-year prison sentence with a possible fine up to $10,000.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced four arrests in an alleged voter harvesting scheme in East Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman)

“Voter fraud is a serious and widespread issue and cannot be tolerated,” said Sheriff Tracy Murphree. “The fact an actual candidate for public office would engage in these activities is appalling.”

Experts say that voter fraud is rare and has not been proven to have had any impact on large-scale elections, but that it can swing small elections that have low turnout.

Falconer, the Carrollton mayor, said he hoped voters would tilt his way regardless of the arrest.

“I would like to think that voters would look at my record and the positive things that have happened in Carrollton and vote accordingly as a result,” he said. “I feel confident in my record as it stands ... and I just prefer to let people see the kind of public servant that I am.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday that his election fraud unit assisted the Sheriff’s Office in arresting Mohamed. Paxton commended the investigators involved for “ensuring a free and fair Presidential election in the face of unprecedented voter fraud."

“Mail ballots are inherently insecure and vulnerable to fraud, and I am committed to safeguarding the integrity of our elections," Paxton said. "My office is prepared to assist any Texas county in combating this form of fraud.”

This is the second voter fraud prosecution that Paxton has launched recently in a local race. Last month he announced the arrest of a Democratic Gregg County commissioner and three associates in East Texas in connection with a 2018 election.

The municipal election was moved from May 2 to Nov. 3 in March by order of Gov. Greg Abbott because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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