Arizona mayor sentenced to 30 days in jail for election fraud

The Democrat ex-mayor of an Arizona town has been sentenced to 30 days in jail for fraudulent ballot harvesting during a 2020 primary.

The judge turned down a plea for probation from school board member and former San Luis Mayor Guillermina Fuentes, 66, saying she showed no remorse for the crime.

Mayor sentenced for ballot fraud

Fuentes was filmed handing ballots off to co-defendant Alma Juarez outside of a polling place where Fuentes was campaigning for a slate of candidates in August 2020. Juarez was sentenced to probation.

Ahead of Fuentes’ sentencing, her lawyer downplayed the crime by saying the ballots were valid and that only “election deniers” — a term of abuse that liberals came up with to demonize anyone who questions the 2020 election — could possibly care about her crime.

“She entered a plea of guilty to ballot abuse — that is, delivering four lawfully voted, signature-verified ballots,” the lawyer said. “The rest of the allegations against Ms. Fuentes are untrue, unfounded, untested and largely made-up by election-denying political opponents who have a political ax to grind.”

That line of argument apparently didn’t score many points with the judge. Quoting from a probation officer’s report, Yuma County Superior Court Judge Roger Nelson said that Fuentes appeared to not think she had done anything wrong.

″The defendant acknowledged responsibility for carrying ballots for someone else however, she stated, ’I’m not a criminal,'” Nelson read. “Well, you are a criminal. You committed a criminal offense. I don’t think you recognize that as a criminal offense. That’s the problem that I have.”

Vindication for “election deniers”?

Prosecutors had sought a year in prison. They initially wanted to bring more serious charges, arguing Fuentes ran an elaborate ballot harvesting operation, but they scaled down the case and got Fuentes to plead guilty to one count of ballot abuse.

Nelson emphasized that Fuentes broke Arizona’s law against ballot harvesting despite knowing that the practice was a known issue in her area.

“It’s been an issue for a long time, or at least it’s been alleged that it’s an issue, that people vote for others, take their ballots,” Nelson said. “Everybody that’s involved in politics in this area knew that a new law was passed. You certainly knew it, that that law was new, even went up to the Supreme Court.”

The judge wasn’t impressed by character evidence Fuentes brought forward meant to show she is a respected public servant, saying, if anything, that it demonstrated she had abused her community’s trust.

“Many of the things that were put forward as mitigating factors, I think they’re also aggravating factors,” he said. “You have been a leader in the San Luis community for a long time. People look up to you, people respect you, and they look to what you do.”