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Laura Seeds found guilty of tampering in 2016 election

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Laura Seeds and her attorney, Marlow Hooper, listen as the jury was polled in her voter fraud case on Thursday.The jury found her guilty on five counts for alleged tampering in the 2016 election in which her husband was elected to the Española City Council. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — The wife of an Española city councilor was found guilty Thursday of several charges of tampering with a municipal election to get her husband elected in 2016.

Laura Seeds, 52, was convicted Thursday of two counts of making false statements relative to the municipal election code, one count of conspiracy to violate the election code and two counts of unlawful possession of another’s absentee ballot.

The jury began deliberating around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and came back with its verdict around 11 a.m. Thursday. The trial started last week.

Seeds faces 7 ½ years in prison and will be sentenced next month. She was not taken into custody after the verdict was read.

Seeds was accused of forging signatures on several absentee ballots to help her husband, Robert Seeds, get elected to the Española city council. Robert Seeds beat Cory Lewis by two votes in 2016 to win the District 4 seat.

Laura Seeds was indicted in February 2018, as Robert Seeds was campaigning to be mayor of Española. She maintained on the witness stand Wednesday that the entire case was a “witch hunt” against her because Attorney General Hector Balderas didn’t want her husband to be mayor.

She was accused of conspiring with 24-year-old Dyon Herrera to falsify several absentee ballots in favor of Robert Seeds. Last month, Herrera pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the municipal election code and testified against Seeds last week. He has not been sentenced.

Her defense had also maintained that Seeds had never physically touched an absentee ballot.

Seeds did not speak to reporters after the verdict was read.

“I am committed to protecting the integrity of our electoral processes and rooting out corruption throughout our state,” Balderas said in a statement. “Laura Seeds violated the election laws that insure the integrity of the democratic process, and I am pleased that our office was able to achieve justice in this case.”

Lewis challenged his narrow loss to Robert Seeds in 2016 city council election in civil court. But former District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled after a bench trial that there wasn’t enough proof that anyone who submitted an absentee ballot committed voter fraud.

Laura Seeds also faces one count each of committing intimidation in a municipal election, coercion of a voter and disturbing a polling place in a municipal election for crimes allegedly committed in the 2018 municipal election. That trial is scheduled for next year.

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