Two California men, including a former mayoral candidate for the city of Hawthorne, have been charged with submitting 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Carlos Antonio De Bourbon Montenegro (a.k.a Mark Anthony Gonsalves), and Marcos Raul Arevalo were charged in a 41-count criminal complaint, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. According to the district attorney’s statement, Montenegro allegedly submitted more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications between July and October 2020 and is also accused of falsifying names, addresses, and signatures on nomination papers under penalty of perjury to run for mayor in the city of Hawthorne.
The criminal complaint states Montenegro’s mayoral documents listed the names, addresses, and signatures of 32 “fictitious, nonexistent or deceased” who purportedly supported his nomination for the mayoral race. The complaint also lists numerous cases of voter registration documents being filed for fictitious people or people who had not requested to register or re-register as a voter.
NBC Los Angeles reported the pair were attempting to get the county registrar’s office to send them mail-in ballots for the fake voters they had registered, but the registrar caught on to the scheme and flagged the applications to prevent the fraudulent votes. NBC Los Angeles reported no votes were cast in their scheme.
The Los Angeles Times reported the pair set up three post office boxes and Montenegro’s home address to submit the fraudulent voter applications.
Dean Logan, Los Angeles County’s top election official, said the suspicious voter applications were caught in mid-October.
Hawthorne is a city with a population of about 86,000 and has about 44,000 registered voters, the Los Angeles Times reported. The effort to register 8,000 new voters would have boosted the city’s voting population by about 20 percent. Logan said the jump in voter applications for the city also set off alarms with election officials.
“We tracked where those voter registration forms were coming from and we notified the [California] Secretary of State and the district attorney’s office,” Logan told the Los Angeles Times.
According to the press statement, Montenegro, 53, and Arevalo, 34, were both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud, eight counts of voter fraud, four counts of procuring and offering a false or forged instrument and four misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit.
Montenegro is charged with an additional 10 counts of voter fraud, seven counts of procuring and offering a false instrument, two counts of perjury and five misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit.
If convicted, Montenegro could face a maximum sentence of 15 years and eight months in state prison.
If convicted, Arevalo could face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.