LOS ANGELES – Two men have been charged in a 41-count criminal complaint for allegedly submitting more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications on behalf of homeless people in Los Angeles County, the District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Carlos Antonio De Bourbon Montenegro, also known as Mark Anthony Gonsalves, was charged with 18 felony counts of voter fraud, 11 felony counts of procuring a false or forged instrument, two felony counts of perjury and one felony count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud, along with nine misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit, according to the DA’s Office.
Montenegro, 53, allegedly submitted more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications between July and October, as well as allegedly falsifying names, addresses and signatures on nomination papers under penalty of perjury to run for mayor in Hawthorne.
The conspiracy charge alleges that Montenegro submitted and filed signed nomination papers containing 41 signatures and addresses to the city clerk this summer and that just 18 of the names, addresses and signatures on the nomination papers were validated by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office.
It also alleges that Montenegro was subsequently issued write-in candidate nomination papers and that he “submitted and filed signed write-in candidate nomination papers containing 32 signatures and addresses for fictitious, non-existent or deceased person” with the city clerk’s office.
According to the criminal complaint, Montenegro and co-defendant Marcos Raul Arevalo, 34, “and other unknown co-conspirators” used three post office boxes in Hawthorne as well as Montenegro’s home address “as mailing addresses for over 8,000 voter registration applications for fictitious, non-existent or deceased persons, that were submitted for processing to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office and the California Secretary of State.”
Arevalo is charged with eight counts of voter fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud and four counts of procuring and offering a false or forged instrument, along with four misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit.
If convicted as charged, Montenegro faces a possible maximum sentence of 15 years and eight months in state prison, while Arevalo faces a possible maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
Montenegro’s mother, Madeline Gonsalves, said she asked her son if what he was doing was legal.
“He’s an extremely intelligent person,” Madeline said of her son. “I kept telling him, ‘Are you sure this is OK?’ He said, ‘Mom, they’re homeless people. They need to vote like anyone else.'”
“My son has lots of ideas,” Madeline added.
The pair was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County’s District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.
Montenegro is also accused of providing fake names, addresses and signatures on nominations to help him run for mayor of Hawthorne.
The defendants allegedly attempted to get mail-in ballots sent to them for the fake voters, but the registrar quickly flagged the applications, and no ballots were sent out.
The case stemmed from an investigation by the DA’s Bureau of Investigation. The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office, FBI, Covina Police Department and the California Secretary of State’s Office also assisted in the initial investigation, according to the District Attorney’s Office.