An undercover video at the polls helped investigators disrupt a local ballot harvesting operation run by a Democratic operative in Arizona, in a scheme that prosecutors have described as a “modern day political machine seeking to influence the outcome” of a 2020 municipal election.
EvidenceThe Arizona attorney general office’s investigation of Fuentes began after it received a notice from the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office of a potential case of voter fraud.
David Lara, former vice chairman of the Yuma County GOP, told The Epoch Times that he collaborated with Synder and passed the video evidence on to the Yuma County Sheriff’s office for investigation. The Sheriff’s office worked with the Arizona attorney general’s office in a joint investigation.
“A group of subjects, lead by Guillermina Fuentes were seen on video manning a table and appearing to be supporting particular candidates,” Knuth’s investigation report reads. “A female identified as Alma Juarez approached the table and made contact with a second female identified as Guillermina Fuentes. Fuentes is ultimately observed taking a ballot from Juarez.”
“In the video, it is clear that the ballot envelope was unsealed. Fuentes was observed to pick up a pen or pencil and write on the ballot envelope. She then pulls the ballot out of the envelope and makes three marks consistent with the filling in of spaces on a ballot to make a candidate selection. Fuentes put the ballot back in the envelope and sealed it. She then retrieved several more ballot envelopes from a folder on the table and handed them to Juarez. Juarez then walks toward the polling,” the report continued.
‘Powerful’ PositionOne of the people interviewed by investigators described Fuentes as a “powerful” figure in the San Luis community, a status she exploited to allegedly engage in ballot harvesting on other occasions.
Agent Knuth interviewed Monica Corral, who said she was employed by Fuentes at Fuentes’s construction company from August 2016 to January 2017.
“Corral stated that during the time leading up to the 2016 general election, she was given envelopes which she determined contained money. Fuentes informed her who would come to pick up the envelopes, and at the time of pick up would either leave a ballot or provide a time when Fuentes could come pick up their ballot,” Knuth’s report stated.
“Corral stated that the majority of the envelopes dropped off at the business were unopened, as if they were just received in the mail,” the report continued, adding that Corral estimated more than fifty ballots were dropped off.
“Testimony of Monica Corral establishes a pattern and history of collecting ballots and in some cases providing monetary compensation for those ballots. Corral's statement also explains that Fuentes has continued to be allowed to engage in suspicious activity regarding ballots without question due to her "powerful" position in the San Luis community,” the report said.
‘Hundreds of Communities’Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of election integrity group True The Vote, previously told The Epoch Times that the Arizona attorney general’s investigation, which led to the indictments of Fuentes and Juarez, showed that this issue is “getting a broader look.”
Engelbrecht described similarities between Fuentes’s case and the recent case of a Texas woman who pleaded guilty to 26 counts of voter fraud in a “vote harvesting” operation.
“This is not about one renegade person harvesting ballots,” she said, referring to the Texas woman. “It’s happening in hundreds of communities all over the country.
“And this is just one front of a thousand-front war on our elections.”
Sentencing HearingThe punishment for Fuentes’s felony conviction ranges from probation to two years in prison.
Prosecutors are seeking a jail term of one year, according to a July 6 court filing.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, Fuentes’s attorney Anne Chapman said “Fuentes has requested a mitigation hearing because the State’s request for a year in prison is clearly excessive.”
“Once she’s a felon, which she already said she was, there’s no compromise,” Synder said.
News 11 reported that the delay was the third time the sentencing for this case has been postponed.
Fuentes previously told The Epoch Times that the charge was a result of “political witchcraft” and that her political opponents “hated” her.
Her attorney Chapman previously described Arizona’s ballot abuse law as a part of race-based “ongoing anti-democratic, state-wide, and national voter suppression efforts.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to the Arizona attorney general’s office for comment.