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Cocaine and cash: Campaign manager charged with buying votes in Texas election

A campaign manager was arrested Thursday and accused of paying for votes in the November 2012 school board election in Donna, Texas.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas made the announcement.

The four-count indictment charged Francisco “Frankie” Garcia, 47, of Donna, with conspiring to buy votes, paying for votes, and aiding and abetting others to buy votes stemming from the vote-buying scheme.  

Garcia was arrested the evening of September 18, 2014, in Alton, Illinois. The indictment was returned under seal days earlier and and unsealed today following his arrest.

According to the indictment, during the November 2012 general election, Garcia worked as a campaign manager for four candidates to the Donna School Board. 

During that time, he allegedly bought votes and worked with other campaign workers to pay voters and to offer to pay voters in this election to vote for particular candidates. The indictment alleges that Garcia paid voters by giving the voters either cocaine or cash in exchange for their votes.

Three campaign workers — Rebecca Gonzalez, 44, and Diana Balderas Castaneda, 48, both of Donna, Texas, and Guadalupe Escamilla, 72, of Weslaco, Texas — previously pleaded guilty to vote-buying charges stemming from this election.

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