SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – An avowed Republican activist and supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, who was born in Mexico however lived in the USA illegally for greater than 20 years, was discovered responsible on Friday of identification theft and 5 counts of alien voter fraud.
A federal court docket jury in Sacramento, California, returned the responsible verdict towards Gustavo Araujo Lerma, 64, after a number of hours of deliberation, capping a five-day trial by which protection attorneys offered letters of thanks from Trump and prime Republican Social gathering officers.
The case posed an ironic twist to Trump’s oft-repeated however unsubstantiated declare that hundreds of thousands of non-citizens fraudulently solid ballots towards him in 2016, skewing the favored vote in favor of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, whereas he received within the Electoral School.
Lerma, who additionally was discovered responsible of passport fraud, faces as much as 22 years in jail when he’s sentenced on Nov. 26, in line with a press release from the U.S. lawyer for the Japanese District of California asserting the decision.
Based on proof offered at trial, Lerma was born in Mexico in 1955 however within the early 1990s he fraudulently assumed the identification, together with Social Safety quantity, of a Puerto Rico-born U.S. citizen, Hiram Velez, who died in 1997.
Lerma later used his stolen identification to illegally get hold of U.S. citizenship for his Mexican-born spouse and two kids, and to acquire U.S. passports. He fraudulently voted underneath his false ID in 5 federal elections in California, together with the 2016 non-partisan main and common elections for president.
Federal prosecutors made no assertions about who Lerma voted for in these races, however the protection acknowledged he was a registered Republican.
Protection attorneys contended their shopper was entitled to make use of the title Hiram Velez underneath California frequent legislation allowing an individual to vary his title at any time with out initiating authorized proceedings, and mentioned that even his kids knew him solely by his assumed title.
Making the case for his or her shopper’s legit use of the Velez ID, his attorneys filed an inventory of displays together with drivers licenses and pay stubs, in addition to Republican Nationwide Committee and Trump presidential marketing campaign membership playing cards in his assumed title.
Throughout the trial, the protection offered a letter of thanks addressed to Velez from Trump dated June 2017. The letter, in line with the Sacramento Bee, acknowledged partly that the president and Vice President Mike Pence “are deeply grateful in your resolve to assist us make America safer, stronger and extra affluent than ever earlier than.”
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Writing and extra reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Modifying by Invoice Tarrant and Leslie Adler