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Probe into voter fraud nearly done, says DA

January 05, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

An investigation into possible absentee ballot irregularities in the recent county Board of Supervisors election is almost complete, the district attorney said Thursday.

District Attorney Gilbert Otero said investigators are set to conduct one more interview in connection with a probe stemming from a request by supervisorial candidate Joe Maruca after November's election.

Seven people reportedly requested that absentee ballots be sent to the Golden West Motel at 1080 Adams Ave. in El Centro.

During his campaign, Maruca would obtain the names of voters who requested absentee ballots from the county Elections Department. Maruca would then mail letters requesting that the absentee voter support his candidacy. The 1080 Adams Ave. address kept popping up one day, Maruca has said.


Otero said Secretary of State's office investigators are involved with the investigation and are providing guidance.

"We want to make sure we're dotting our I's and crossing our T's," Otero said.

"We're meeting tomorrow with our senior attorneys and deciding what our next course of action is going to be," Otero said.

Besides asking that the DA investigate, Maruca informed the county Board of Supervisors, the county Elections Department and the county Administrative Office of the problem.

"Upon reviewing the list of absentee ballot requests on at least two occasions, I called the front desk of the hotel and asked if the aforementioned people were registered there at the hotel, and the answer was negative," Maruca wrote.

The names in question are Jaswant Sing Bains, Tamanna Jastej Bains, Tejinder Kaur Bains, Raj Dhillon, William Estel Frith, Jose Luis Hernandez and Jess Martindell.

The motel owner, Ken Patel, has said no absentee ballots were delivered to the motel, and if they did arrive by mail, the mail would delivered to the rooms.

Upon receipt of the request at the Elections Department, the applicant's voter registration status is checked. If the address to which the voter wants the absentee ballot mailed is different from the address of record, the Elections Department urge the voter to vote in person at the appropriate precinct or at the Elections Department.

Maruca won the November runoff election over David Dhillon.

Staff Writer Marcy Misner can be reached at 337-3441.

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