California

Mexican citizen who voted for Trump found guilty of voter fraud in 5 U.S. elections

A jury on Friday found a Sacramento man guilty on all counts in a case charging him with being a Mexican citizen who assumed an American’s identity and voted in five federal elections.

Gustavo Araujo Lerma, who has insisted he is an American-born man named Hiram Enrique Velez, was found guilty on all seven counts by a jury in federal court in Sacramento.

Lerma showed no emotion as the verdict was read by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez, and family members declined to comment afterward.

Mendez set sentencing for Nov. 26, and Lerma could face at least two years in prison for his conviction on a count of aggravated identity theft.

The defendant has been held in custody since his 2017 indictment by a federal grand jury and faced one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of making a false statement on a passport application and five counts of voting by an alien in federal elections from 2012 through 2016.

Prosecutors say Lerma voted illegally for the past 20 years, using the Hiram Velez identity that he adopted after buying a birth certificate and Social Security card in that name in Chicago in 1992.

The defense contended there is no proof that the defendant actually is Lerma – a Mexican citizen – and the defendant testified Wednesday that he didn’t know where he was born or when because he was found as a 5-year-old on the streets of San Antonio.

Lerma testified that he was an ardent fan of President Trump and a Republican who sent money in to support the Republican party.

Prosecutors said he was born in Mexico in 1955, married his wife and had children there, then came to the United States and remarried his wife in Los Angeles so that, as a purported U.S. citizen, he could provide legal resident status for his wife and children.

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.
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