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Young defendant gets probation in Española election case

SANTA FE — A young Española man may get a chance at the future he says he wants if he stays out of trouble for the next 18 months.

Dyon Herrera was given a deferred sentence Monday in state District Court for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the municipal election code and had faced up to 18 months in prison.

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Dyon Herrera stands in court during his sentencing hearing on Monday. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

In 2016, Herrera, 20 years old at the time, conspired with Laura Seeds to falsify votes for Robert Seeds, her husband and an Española City Council candidate that year. Robert Seeds won his race by two votes.

Herrera was charged for forging his grandparents’ signatures on absentee ballots in a car outside City Hall.

On Monday, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ordered Herrera to spend 18 months on supervised probation. If he does well, he can ask the judge to have the case dismissed, meaning it won’t remain on his record as a conviction.

Herrera told Marlowe Sommer that his father had passed away and he had become addicted to opiates before committing the crime. He said he has since overcome his addiction and would like to start a family. That would be hard to do with a felony conviction, Herra told the judge.

“I was just at a bad time in my life,” Herrera said “… I have learned a lot since then.”

Herrera testified at Laura Seeds’ November trial as part of his plea agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office.

Assistant Attorney General Peter Valencia said Herrera has accepted responsibility and has fully complied with his plea agreement

“He admitted that he did a bad thing,” Valencia said.

Defense attorney Paul Mannick said Herrera was struggling with personal issues and unemployment when he jumped at the chance to work with Robert Seeds, who Mannick said was a respected member of the community. Seeds remains on the City Council.

In 2017, Herrera pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of attempting to possess a narcotic and was ordered to do drug treatment in Arizona, court records show.

Herrera did not comment to reporters after the hearing.

Laura Seeds was found guilty for tampering with the 2016 municipal election and was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest. She also faces charges related to her husband’s campaign for mayor in 2018.

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