April 26 (UPI) -- The mayor of a South Texas city was arrested for voter fraud, according to authorities.
Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, 41, and his wife, Dalia Molina, 42, surrendered themselves to police Thursday on charges of orchestrating an organized illegal voting scheme in the city's mayoral election of 2017, the Texas Attorney General's office said in a statement.
According to the statement, the couple had numerous people change their addresses to residences where they did not live in order to vote for Molina in the November 7, 2017, Edinburg municipal election.
"His vote-harvesting scheme involved the participation of paid campaign workers, among others," the statement said.
Molina won that election, unseating former Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia by 1,240 votes.
Molina was charged with two felony counts of illegal voting and one count of engaging in organized election fraud while his wife was charged with one count of illegal voting.
He received a combined $20,000-cash bond for all three charges and Dalia received a $5,000-cash bond.
Molina's lawyer, Carlos A. Garcia, said his client and wife were the "victims of a power struggle."
"We intend to fight these charges, and both of them are absolutely innocent of what the state alleges," he said.
Since the 2017 election, Molina had been dogged by rumors of election fraud and a complaint was filed against him with the Texas Secretary of State's office in December of that year.
Richard denied the allegations in an elaborate video posted to his Facebook page in May 2018 claiming the investigation was a "political vendetta" spearheaded by a woman who had supported the then-mayor, Garcia.
Garcia said on his Facebook page that the arrest of his opponent in that November election does not make him happy.
"Whereas I am not surprised by the incidents of today, I cannot say that I am gladdened," he said. "In fact, I am saddened that our community receives this black eye; particularly when it was once seen as the Valley's rising star filled with promise and integrity."
Since last year, 18 people have been arrested in connection to the voter fraud case, the attorney general's office said.
"Voter fraud is an affront to democracy and places the decision-making authority of the Texas electorate in the hands of those who have no right to make those choices," Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. "Voter apathy is caused by rigged elections with guaranteed outcomes. My office will always do everything it can to protect the integrity of Texas elections and the rights of every legal voter to cast a ballot and have it counted accurately."