Politics & Government

Non-U.S. citizens indicted on charges of voting illegally in North Carolina

A Wilmington grand jury indicted 19 people who are not U.S. citizens for voting illegally.
A Wilmington grand jury indicted 19 people who are not U.S. citizens for voting illegally. The Wichita Eagle

Federal prosecutors have charged 19 citizens of other countries with voting illegally in North Carolina in the 2016 presidential election.

A federal grand jury in Wilmington returned the indictments this month for illegal voting, according to an announcement sent to the news media Friday by Robert J. Higdon Jr., U.S. attorney for North Carolina’s eastern district. Some were charged with falsely claiming U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote.

Nine people face up to six years in prison and a $350,000 fine if convicted on charges of voting by noncitizens and pretending to be U.S. citizens in order to register to vote. Two are from Mexico, and the rest are from the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, the Philippines, Panama, Grenada, Guyana, and Japan, according to Higdon’s office.

Eight people face up to a year in prison and $100,000 fines for voting by noncitizens, the news release said. Two are from Haiti, and the others are from Poland, Germany, El Salvador, Italy, Mexico, and Korea.

Additionally, a 26-year-old woman from Mexico, Diana Patricia Franco-Rodriguez, was indicted on charges of fraud, voting by a noncitizen, and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents. She faces up to 26 years in prison and a $350,000 fine, according to the news release from Higdon’s office.

The Wilmington grand jury also indicted Denslo Allen Paige, 66, with aiding and abetting one of the women charged with falsely claiming citizenship and voting illegally. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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On Aug. 14, a Dominican man pleaded guilty to charges of passport fraud and voting by a noncitizen. Ramon Esteban Paez-Jerez gained permanent legal status in 1989 using a false identity and was naturalized in 1999, the news release says. He registered to vote in North Carolina using the fake identity in 2007 and voted in Wake County in 2016 “knowing he had illegally obtained United States citizenship,” the statement to the media says.

He faces a maximum 11 years in prison and a $350,000 fine, according to the news release. Sentencing is scheduled for December in New Bern.

Bonner: 919-829-4821; @Lynn_Bonner
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