Politics

Fresno woman charged with 30 counts of voter fraud

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A cloud is hanging over two Fresno County political campaigns after prosecutors filed 30 felony charges related to potential voter fraud.

Action News talked to three of the alleged victims Wednesday. They all said they never signed one of these petitions, but one of them told me he gave the suspect permission to use his name.

Darlene Holland has a history of good deeds in Southwest Fresno. From organizing block parties to helping at the West Fresno Health Care Coalition, she's well known in the community. But her sons are worried her volunteer work for the campaigns of Oliver Baines and Cynthia Sterling may erase all her good deeds.

"This is the frustrating part," said her son John Holland as he held framed pictures of her doing charitable work. "She just did what she was asked to."

His mother is accused of voter fraud. Investigators say she wrote as many as 100 false signatures onto forms helping Baines and Sterling avoid fees to get on the June ballot. The elections office says the bogus signatures were not hard to spot.

"On its face, it's apparent the signatures were done in the same handwriting with the same pen by the same person," said Fresno county voter registrar Victor Salazar.

Investigators say Holland broke down and cried when they confronted her. They tracked down ten people who said they never signed petitions. But one of them told Action News Holland had his permission to sign his name.

"You told her it'd be okay?" asked this reporter.

"Yeah, that she used my name in whatever she was doing," said alleged victim Glen Brown. "I didn't have nothing against that."

Brown is not only an alleged victim. He's also Holland's stepfather and he says it's a shame her reputation is taking a hit. Her sons say it's not fair that she's become a target for prosecution.

"I mean, think about it," said Paul Holland. "All these drug dealers and guys running around here with guns and stuff doing all these crimes and stuff and you get somebody who might've just made a mistake and put them in jail."

Holland isn't actually in jail. She was cited Wednesday and told to appear in court next month.

Action News talked to the campaign manager for both Baines and Sterling, who are in separate runoff elections this November. Fernando Tafoya said the candidates both know Holland well and they're shocked by the allegations.

The elections office says there's no evidence the candidates knew anything about the signatures.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
fresno, fresno county, politics, corin hoggard
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