Laura Seeds twisted a rosary in her hand Thursday morning in state District Court in Santa Fe as jurors returned guilty verdicts on five felony violations of the municipal election code. Her husband, Española City Councilor Robert Seeds, whispered “wow” and shook his head as the guilty verdict was read, crossing and uncrossing his arms.
Laura Seeds was accused of voter fraud to help her husband secure his seat in 2016. Jurors found her guilty on two counts of illegal possession of ballots, two counts of making false statements and one count of conspiracy to violate the city’s election code.
Jurors, who received the case Wednesday afternoon following a trial that began Oct. 31, deliberated for an hour and a half. They found her not guilty on three counts of illegal possession of ballots.
She was not taken into custody after the verdict but has an ankle monitor, according to court documents. She faces a maximum of 7½ years in prison for the five fourth-degree felonies. A sentencing hearing is scheduled Dec. 9.
When asked for comment, family members shoved reporters and said Robert and Laura Seeds had no comment.
“We’re focused on advocating for Laura at sentencing and exploring other legal options,” Laura Seeds’ lawyer, Marlow Hooper, said.
In a statement, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said, “Laura Seeds violated the election laws that [ensure] the integrity of the democratic process, and I am pleased that our office was able to achieve justice in this case.”
Robert Seeds still holds the District 4 City Council seat, though he lost a 2018 Española mayoral bid.
He was elected to the council over incumbent Cory Lewis by two votes. That margin sparked voter fraud complaints, with Lewis alleging that Robert Seeds’ supporters submitted fraudulent absentee ballots to steal the election.
A judge ruled the evidence didn’t support the allegations. But afterward, Española’s city clerk wrote a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office expressing concerns about irregularities with signatures on absentee ballots delivered by Laura Seeds and her husband’s former campaign assistant, Dyon Herrera. The letter prompted state police to open an investigation.
In February 2018, Laura Seeds was indicted on 15 counts of violating the municipal election code. That number fell to 12 counts at the beginning of the trial. On Wednesday, District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer dropped four of the charges due to lack of evidence.
Herrera testified against Laura Seeds after taking a plea deal to resolve his election fraud charges.
In a separate case, Laura Seeds is accused of calling Española’s city clerk and asking what she told investigators. The court had instructed Laura Seeds not to discuss the case with potential witnesses.
Jury selection for that trial is scheduled for June 22.