Nineteen foreign nationals stand accused of voting illegally in the 2016 election, according to indictments handed down Friday. A 20th person stands indicted for allegedly aiding and abetting a defendant in their effort to register to vote.
The charges vary, with some defendants allegedly falsely claiming citizenship in order to register to vote. Others lied while going through the process of becoming an American citizen. Some were accused of creating fake identities in order to register to vote.
A press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina tells the story of the accusations made against one Dominican man.
"On August 14, 2018, Ramon Esteban Paez-Jerez, age 58, of the Dominican Republic, was charged and pleaded guilty to a two-count Criminal Information charging him with passport fraud and voting by an alien.
"According to the Criminal Information, Paez-Jerez in 1988 was ordered deported from the United States and failed to appear for his scheduled removal. According to court records, Paez-Jerez assumed a fraudulent identity and applied for amnesty.
"Paez-Jerez in 1989 was granted lawful permanent status under the false identity and in 1999 was naturalized contrary to law as a United States citizen. On July 7, 2007, Paez-Jerez registered to vote in North Carolina under his fraudulent identity."
If convicted on the most serious of charges, fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents, and voting by an alien, defendants would face up to 26 years in prison followed by probation, and a $350,000 fine.
These defendants are from a range of countries including Mexico, the Philippines, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Poland. The defendant's range in age between 35- and 71-years-old.
The investigation has been a joint effort by a number of agencies. The North Carolina task force made up of agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of State, and Enforcement Removal Operations has been investigating these cases.
President Donald Trump has frequently made claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he tweeted shortly after his election.
A commission dedicated to investigating voter fraud disbanded earlier this year. President Trump tweeted in January that many states refused to cooperate with the Voter Fraud commission.The investigation into voter fraud is ongoing, says the Department of Justice.