An man who admitted forging signatures on applications for absentee ballots in Española’s 2016 municipal election received a deferred sentence which will allow him to avoid having a felony conviction on his record he if completes 18 months’ probation without a violation.
Dyon Herrera, 24, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the municipal code — a fourth-degree felony — in October after being accused of signing the applications of his grandparents and another man in order to obtain their absentee ballots from a city clerk.
Herrera told prosecutors he signed the applications at the behest of Laura Seeds while working on her husband City Councilor Robert Seeds’ re-election campaign.
Under the terms of his agreement with prosecutors, Herrera testified against Laura Seeds in her the election fraud case and could have been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison on the felony count.
But state District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer handed down the deferred sentence after Herrera asked for leniency Monday. He told the judge he’d been dealing with the death of his father and struggling with an opioid addiction when he committed the crime, but has since kicked his addiction and become a productive citizen.
“I’m not perfect,” Herrera said Monday. “Nobody is perfect in this world, but all we can do is learn from our mistakes and try to grow from them. And that’s honestly what I’m trying to do. What I did was a very foolish, naive thing. I was just at a very bad time in my life. And obviously, I know way better. I’ve learned a lot since then.”
The sentence represents another second chance for Herrera, who had avoided becoming a convicted felon when he received a conditional discharge — which defendants can only be awarded once in a lifetime — in a 2015 assault case.
Assistant Attorney General Peter Valencia did not make a sentencing recommendation to the court Monday and said afterward he elected to stay silent because Herrera had cooperated so fully in the state’s prosecution of Laura Seeds.
A jury found Laura Seeds guilty of five fourth-degree felonies in November, including two counts of illegal possession of absentee ballots, two counts of making false statements and one count of conspiracy to violate the city’s election code. She was sentenced to five years’ probation in that case, but faces another trial on related charges this spring.