Recent City Council candidate Gilberto de la Torre is accused of fraudulently signing and submitting his brother's and another person's voter mail-in ballots when he ran for mayor two years ago, according to a report filed by the District Attorney's office.
The brother and other person had previously lived at the residence where de la Torre is now staying, and their mail-in ballots had been sent there, according to a probable cause declaration filed Oct. 29. When contacted by investigators, both said they no longer lived at the address and had not voted by mail in the 2016 mayoral election.
Their names were redacted from the document.
The brother at first said he voted twice in support of de la Torre's run for the mayor's office, but later recanted and told investigators he lied to protect de la Torre, according to the declaration.
When confronted, de la Torre admitted to seeing the mail-in ballots for both his brother and the other person at his residence, according to the declaration. But he denied signing them.
"He stated that it wasn't his intention to commit fraud and said he jokingly suggested they send both (voter mail-in) ballots to his house because he needed 30 votes to be able to run for mayor," DA Investigator Veronica Alvarez wrote in the document.
De la Torre told investigators he would take full responsibility for the fraud since it was his campaign. He was one of 25 candidates to run for mayor.
He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The alleged fraud came to light because the signatures on the mail-in ballots didn't match the signatures of the provisional voting ballots the brother and other person signed in Arvin, according to the declaration.
On Tuesday — the same day in which the DA's office announced he had been charged — de la Torre challenged incumbent Willie Rivera for the Ward 1 City Council seat. He came in a distant second.
Earlier this week, de la Torre told The Californian he was interviewed by the DA's office in June 2017. He said he went to the DA's office voluntarily and was not led to believe at that time he would be charged.