‘You won’t get caught’: Key witness testifies Molina pushed voter fraud activity

Former Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina looks over evidence shown on a television screen during his voter fraud trial in the 92nd state District Court at the Hidalgo County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

EDINBURG — A former business partner of Richard Molina took the stand Thursday and told jurors that the one-time Edinburg mayor asked him to encourage his employees to change their addresses to Edinburg residences so they could vote for him.

The testimony came from Julio Carranza, who is charged with a count of engaging in organized voter fraud and two counts of illegal voting.

Molina is also charged with a single count of engaging in organized voter fraud and 11 counts of illegal voting stemming from the 2017 Edinburg municipal election where he unseated the city’s longtime mayor.

Molina has pleaded not guilty and repeatedly claimed that charges are retaliation for beating the political establishment in Edinburg.

Carranza has also pleaded not guilty, but on Thursday, he admitted to pressuring his employees at his mortgage lending company to change their addresses to Edinburg so they could vote for Molina.

He said he did this at Molina’s request.

During cross examination, defense attorney Carlos A. Garcia asked Carranza whether he would have committed a crime at Molina’s request.

Carranza indicated that he would, depending on the crime.

When asked whether he would commit a beer run or rob a store, Carranza said no, prompting Garcia to ask what kind of crime he would commit.

Carranza said voter fraud.

He also testified that he asked Molina if what they were doing was illegal, to which Molina replied: “You’re not going to get caught. Everybody does it.”

Multiple employees of Carranza’s testified on Thursday that they voted illegally for Molina.

During cross examination, Garcia hammered home that Carranza is still facing criminal charges, and indicated that Carranza’s testimony was an effort to appease prosecutors.

Victoria Cochran, a science coordinator for the Mission Consolidated Independent School District, also took the stand Thursday.

She said that in 2014 Molina spoke to her and her husband about registering to vote under her grandmother’s Edinburg address.

She testified she was told it was OK as long as she didn’t also vote in Mission, where she lived.

Another witness was Nitin Kasan, who owns Oceangate Hotel and Development.

He testified on Thursday that Molina spoke to his employees about voting in the 2017 election.

Kasan testified that while the investigation was underway, law enforcement told him someone voted from his address.

The first witness on Thursday was Molina’s cousin, Erica Molina.

She told jurors that Molina asked her to vote for him in the 2017 election even though she lived in Donna.

Molina told her he could change her address and helped her do so, she testified.

She testified she didn’t know this was illegal, but when the investigation began Molina started calling her, telling her not to worry and that she didn’t have to answer questions from law enforcement.

She recorded the call, which the jury heard.

In another recording, which was not played for the jury, Molina is heard meeting with state prosecutor Michael Garza and other investigators in the case. Garza is heard telling her that if she cooperates, she and her husband won’t be prosecuted.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 1:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the accurate day of the testimony. 


Former Edinburg mayor accused of voter fraud tells judge ‘I’m not guilty’ on first day of trial

9 testify former Edinburg mayor encouraged them to vote illegally