Three former friends testify that Molina pressured them to vote illegally

Former Edinburg mayor accused of voter fraud tells judge "I’m not guilty" on first day of trial at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

EDINBURG — A man, a U.S. Border Patrol agent and his wife took the stand Wednesday morning and told jurors they voted illegally in the 2017 Edinburg municipal election in which Richard Molina prevailed over the city’s longtime mayor.

The testimony comes on the second day of Molina’s trial on a count of engaging in organized voter fraud and 11 counts of illegal voting.

Molina has maintained his innocence since his arrest and has said the charges are politically motivated because he took power from longtime political allies in the city.

The first to tell the jury they voted illegally was Adolfo Cantu, who works in construction.

Cantu told jurors he was not living in Edinburg at the time and met Molina through a friend.

Eventually, Cantu said Molina asked him about registering to vote. He also said he was unsure whether Molina knew he was not an Edinburg resident.

At some point, Cantu had a broken water line at his house, which led to an offer from one of Molina’s brothers for Cantu to stay in an Edinburg apartment complex Molina owned.

He said he did not take the offer.

Cantu said that the conversation with Molina’s brother had nothing to do with the former mayor later asking him to change his address to that apartment complex.

Molina’s defense attorney Carlos A. Garcia indicated that since he changed his address there he did reside in Edinburg.

Cantu also testified that he did later change his address to that apartment complex.

Cantu said he knew they shouldn’t be doing it, but he did what he did because he wanted to help Molina.

“Because that’s what friends do,” Cantu said.

As he left the courtroom, Cantu apologized to Molina as he walked out.

The next people to take the stand were Richard and Araceli Ramirez, who both said they voted illegally in the 2017 election.

Richard is a Border Patrol agent and Araceli is a speech therapist with the McAllen Independent School District.

The married couple both took turns on the stand and each told the jurors that Molina and his wife Dalia approached them at a barbecue and asked them to change their residence to the agent’s mother’s house. She lived in Edinburg.

Dalia is also facing voter fraud charges and has pleaded not guilty.

“I knew it was wrong,” Richard Ramirez said, adding that Molina assured him he wouldn’t get in trouble because it had been done before.

The trial is scheduled to continue at 1:15 p.m.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify Cantu’s testimony.

Check out the wrap up of the first day of trial in the Richard Molina voter fraud case here:

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