Luis Garcia says the authorities did not believe him when he said someone was trying to keep him from running for a Cudahy City Council seat by threatening him and his family.
There was the Molotov cocktail that hit his house, paint poured on his truck and bricks thrown at the window of his house – all acts of vandalism he believes were meant to discourage him from running in 2007.
Now, after two city officials on Thursday accepted plea agreements revealing allegations of election fraud in the tiny city southeast of downtown Los Angeles, Garcia believe his concerns were warranted.
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"I feel vindicated," Garcia told NBC4 News’ Ana Garcia.
He feels vindicated because federal prosecutors now say the election Garcia lost was rigged.
In a plea agreement revealed Thursday, the former head of the city’s code enforcement, Angel Perales, admitted to opening and discarding absentee ballots that were not for incumbent candidates in both the 2007 and 2009 elections.
Garcia lost his bid for the city council by just 33 votes, coming in behind Councilman Osvaldo Conde, one of the three officials charged in a scheme that has led to allegations of a variety of corrupt practices at Cudahy City Hall.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Akrotirianakis said Perales worked with other city officials to rig elections, ensuring that incumbents remained in power.
"He had, with other city officials, opened ballots, saw who the ballots were cast for and returned some of the ballots to the mail to be counted, and removed others so that they would not be counted," Akrotirianakis said of Perales.
"Not only did I lose the community, the community lost," Garcia said. "When you vote, it’s a very sacred right in America."
He said that after what he’s been through, he’s done with politics.
The allegations of election fraud are the latest revelation in a political corruption case which has so far led to the arrests of Perales, Conde and former Mayor David Silva in connection with the opening of a marijuana dispensary.
An FBI sting caught the men asking a confidential informant for bribes in exchange for support for a proposed pot shop.
Perales and Silva have each agreed to plead guilty to one felony chage for bribery and one for extortion. Conde has not accepted a plea agreement.
All three are set to be arraigned July 19.