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Voter fraud charge dropped

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For more than two years, retired U.S. Marine Capt. Johnny Luévano Jr. wondered how long an unresolved allegation of voter fraud would hang over him.

The answer came just days ago when Bernalillo County Deputy District Attorney Michael Fricke told the Journal that his office has decided not to pursue the case because of insufficient evidence of criminal intent.

LUÉVANO: On active duty when he voted

LUÉVANO: On active duty when he voted

Fricke said his office made the decision recently. He said they have a lot of cases to deal with and tend to prioritize those involving people who are in custody.

“I think this case just dropped through the cracks,” Fricke said.

He said they looked at the case after receiving some phone calls asking about the outcome.

Luévano said in an interview this week that he had called to inquire before he filed last month to run as a Republican for the West Side House District 16 seat against incumbent Democrat Antonio “Moe” Maestas.

At the time, Luévano said, he was only told that the case was still open.

“Nobody’s ever really given me an answer,” Luévano said. “So for a couple of years, now I’ve been worried about it.”

Fricke said his office typically doesn’t inform the people involved of a decision not to pursue a case.

The issue arose when Luévano filed to run for District 16 in 2012. ProgressNow New Mexico, a nonprofit liberal-advocacy group, alleged he may have violated state voter registration laws by using an address that he did not yet have a city permit to occupy.

Maestas also sued to have Luévano’s name removed from the ballot, claiming he wasn’t living in the district by the date required to establish his residency.

A state District Court judge in Albuquerque ruled in Maestas’ favor in April 2012, though he said he found no evidence that Luévano acted with criminal intent.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver took Luévano off the ballot and turned the voter fraud allegations over to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the allegations and forwarded the matter to the District Attorney’s Office in April 2012.

Luévano said back then, and again this week, that he was still on active duty when he voted in the city election in October 2011. He said he voted in Bernalillo County elections for 20 years while he on active duty, sometimes absentee, sometimes in person if he was home on leave on an election day.

“Two years ago I was wrongfully accused and I was truly saddened to know that there are some who do not value military service. I have since met countless patriotic New Mexicans who have encouraged me to get back up, proudly stand tall and step forward with my Westside candidacy again,” Luévano said this week in an emailed statement.

When he filed his candidacy this year, Oliver said she assumed that the sheriff and district attorney had decided not to pursue charges.

“I came to know that he was an active member of the military, and I’m aware there are safeguards in place to allow those individuals to participate in the voting process,” Oliver said. “I wasn’t myself overly concerned with his legitimacy as a voter.”

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