City employee Priscilla Morales has been arrested, but former Councilor Angelica Marquez has not. Both face fourth-degree felony charges.
To read the criminal complaint and other court records filed in the Morales case, click here. This article has been updated to include information from those documents.
A former Sunland Park city councilor and a current city employee were charged today in the alleged voter-fraud scheme that has rocked the town.
Priscilla Morales, the public works director’s secretary, and former Councilor Angelica Marquez each face fourth-degree felony charges of false voting and conspiracy to commit false voting. Morales was arrested outside city hall at about 6 p.m., an hour before the polls close in today’s municipal election.
Marquez has not yet been arrested. If or when she is, she, like Morales, will be held on a $50,000 secured bond.
District Attorney Amy Orlando confirmed the charges against the two women, which stem from allegations identified as part of Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s investigation conducted last week. According to Duran’s report, Marquez registered four people to vote at her own residence, including Morales, and another four at a residence next door.
None of those eight are Sunland Park residents eligible to vote in the election, Duran’s report states, yet some of them have voted.
That includes Morales, an El Paso resident who is registered to vote in Texas but voted in Sunland Park on Feb. 17, Duran’s report alleges.
According to the criminal complaint against Morales, she told investigators she ran into Marquez at a grocery store in Sunland Park in January, and Marquez asked her to register to vote. When she told Marquez she was a Texas resident, Morales said, Marquez told her she could register to vote if she planned on moving to Sunland Park within four years.
Marquez told Morales to list Marquez’s address as her own, the complaint states.
Orlando had offered amnesty to people who illegally registered to vote and voted in the election if they were pressured to do so, didn’t realize it was wrong, and were willing to cooperate with investigators. Morales’ case is different, Orlando told NMPolitics.net, because, as a city employee, she knew what she was doing was wrong.
“She knew that she couldn’t vote and she knew she didn’t live there,” Orlando said. “She’s a Salinas supporter and she did it to get Salinas votes.”
Orlando was referring to Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Salinas, a mayoral candidate who Orlando alleges the voter-fraud scheme was designed to elect. Salinas faces felony extortion charges related to using a lap-dance video to try to force an opponent out of the race but has not been charged in the voter-fraud case.
Marquez resigned from her council job on Feb. 10. The charges she faces are similar to those filed against the director of Sunland Park’s senior center, Silvia Gomez, who was arrested Sunday on felony charges alleging she influenced two El Paso residents to illegally vote for Salinas.
Update, March 7, 9:35 a.m.
Morales has posted bond and been released from jail.