Texas Teacher Took Advantage of Elderly Blind Woman to Steal Her Vote
FORT WORTH, TX – October 30, 2018
State authorities allege that Leticia Sanchez Pierce, was among four women being paid to target elderly voters in north Fort Worth in a scheme to harvest their ballots for specific 2016 candidates. The indictment against her was filed with Criminal District #1 court in Tarrant County this month.
Sanchez, 57, a teaching assistant at Como Elementary, was indicted last week on 17 counts in connection with the alleged voter fraud operation. Among the accusations were that she marked Garcia’s ballot without his consent and provided false information on applications for mail-in ballots for Dominicia “Minnie” Barela, a 76-year-old blind Fort Worth woman, and Delfino Garcia, used to take her to the polls to vote.
When asked who paid Sanchez and the other women, Texas Attorney General spokesman Jeff Hillery said “details will come out when this case goes to trial.”
He noted that the charges in these cases “are in connection with the 2016 Democratic primary, but the case has connections with the 2015 city council election.”
On October 18, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted:
This is disgusting how a teacher took advantage of an elderly blind woman to steal her vote & commit voter fraud. She’s now indicted on 17 counts of voter fraud. Thanks to @KenPaxtonTX for prosecuting this. #txlege #tcot #PJNET https://t.co/CXxiRgjVhy— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 18, 2018
According to the affidavit, an investigator became suspicious of organized voter fraud while examining applications for ballots by mail for the years 2015 and 2016. He noted a large number of applications had been faxed — in batches ranging from 10 to more than 100 — to the Tarrant County Elections Office from a single fax number.
Among those applications was Garcia’s, who suffered a stroke in 2011 and had to be moved into a nursing home. Thus, Dominicia found herself alone and helpless, which is why she was happy when she met Sanchez in 2016, when she knocked on her door and said she was helping people vote who didn’t have any other way to cast their ballots.
Barela recalls that after Sanchez sat down at her kitchen table, she read the ballot to her and she announced her choices for Sanchez to mark. She doesn’t remember the woman pressuring her to choose any specific candidate.
When it came to the ballot that belonged to Garcia, "Sanchez told her that she marked his ballot the same way as she had marked Barela’s,” the affidavit stated.
“She had never seen Delfino. She has never talked to him. It was only me here,” Barela said.
Barela told investigators that Sanchez “sealed the carrier envelopes and took them with her.”
Investigators reviewed records with the Tarrant County Election’s office, including Garcia’s applications for mail-in ballots in 2015 and 2016 and the envelope the ballot came in for the 2016 primary election.
It turns out that the signature on that envelope containing the ballot matches signatures on Garcia’s applications for mail-in ballots in 2015 and 2016 — but it didn’t match the signature on Garcia’s driver’s license, the affidavit shows.
Leticia Sanchez was the name listed as the person who helped Garcia with the envelope the ballot was in, according to the affidavit.
The recent indictments come two years after allegations of voter fraud began surfacing before the presidential election in 2016. At the time, officials said workers from Paxton’s office were in Tarrant County gathering paperwork and interviewing potential witnesses.
Around that time, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted: “Largest Voter Fraud Investigation in Texas History Underway in Tarrant County. We will crush illegal voting.”
The complaints that year focused on mail-in ballots, which allow people to vote from their homes without any ID or verification of identity.
“I said, why did I do that,” Barela said. “When they’re helping you, you think that’s a good thing. It’s nice to have people thinking about the person that is blind.”
On October 24, Greg Abbott tweeted: “Voter Fraud allegations in Fort Worth are getting worse."Former Democratic Party leader paid women in alleged Tarrant voter fraud ring, AG says." This story details allegations of the crime.”
Voter Fraud allegations in Fort Worth are getting worse. "Former Democratic Party leader paid women in alleged Tarrant voter fraud ring, AG says." This story details allegations of the crime. https://t.co/pnp6M9k40y #tcot #PJNET #txlege— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 25, 2018
Leticia Sanchez was indicted on one count of illegal voting, a second-degree felony punishable by a prison term of 2 to 20 years if convicted. Four other defendants in the case face state felony charges of providing false information on an application for a mail ballot – Sanchez (16 counts), Leticia Sanchez Tepichin (10 counts), Maria Solis (2 counts) and Laura Parra (1 count).
Sanchez is on leave but still employed by the Fort Worth school district, according to Clint Bond, a spokesman for the district. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office will prosecute the cases.
In February, the Attorney General announced a significant voter fraud initiative and addressed key problems and policy areas related to election law. From 2005-2017, the attorney general’s office prosecuted 97 defendants for numerous voter fraud violations. This year alone, Attorney General Paxton’s Election Fraud Unit – with assistance from a criminal justice grant from the governor’s office – has prosecuted 33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations.