Two California Valley board members accused of felony election fraud

Wildflowers bloom in California Valley.
Wildflowers bloom in California Valley. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has filed felony election fraud complaints against two members of the California Valley Community Services District board.

The complaints, filed by the district attorney’s public integrity unit, allege that Misty Marie Lambert, 42, and Lisa Marrone, 57, signed documents under penalty of perjury saying they were residents of California Valley. They were actually living elsewhere and therefore ineligible to be elected and serve on the board, according to a news release. Warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Both recently filed declarations of candidacy for re-election to the board, and their names are scheduled to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, according to the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

Both Lambert and Marrone are accused of felony voter registration fraud, felony filing a false declaration of candidacy document, felony perjury by declaration and two felony counts of offering a false instrument for recording. Marrone is charged with an additional felony count of fraudulent voting in the primary election June 7. The other crimes are alleged to have occurred on various dates in June and August, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The District Attorney’s Office received complaints that Lambert and Marrone were serving on the board but not living in the district, Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham said. A DA’s investigator and a sheriff’s deputy both looked into the complaint.

At least one of the board members — Marrone — owns property in California Valley, but the complaint alleges that it is not her domicile, defined as the place in which a person’s habitation is fixed. It is believed that Marrone lives in Paso Robles while Lambert lives in the South County area, Cunningham said.

“We can’t ascertain with certainty when they lived there (in California Valley) and when they didn’t,” Cunningham said. “That’s why we didn’t allege any crimes until their most recent voter registration and declaration of candidacy. … We don’t think we have any problems of proof with respect to their registrations this year.”

The crimes each carry a maximum penalty of three years in County Jail; the crime of perjury by declaration carries a maximum of four years in jail.

Three seats, each carrying a four-year term, are up for election on the California Valley Community Services District board. Nine candidates, including Lambert and Marrone, intend to run, according to a list of candidates on the county clerk-recorder’s website.

Cynthia Lambert: 805-781-7929, @ClambertSLO