Eleven duplicate mail-in ballot requests — in the names of voters whose applications had already been received — were what first piqued the interest of the Denton County Elections Administration in the election fraud case announced Thursday, according to Sheriff’s Office documents.

The Denton County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday arrested and charged 39-year-old Zul Mirza Mohamed, a Carrollton mayoral candidate, with 109 felonies related to voter fraud. A news release the sheriff’s office emailed Thursday says someone requested that absentee ballots be sent to a nursing home, but investigators learned the address given for the nursing home was actually for a post office box at a packaging and mailing business.

Mohamed is charged with 25 counts of unlawful possession of a ballot/ballot envelope without the request of a voter and 84 counts of fraudulent use of mail ballot applications, second- and third-degree felonies, respectively. Each second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Each third-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

“Certainly if it’s true, and everyone deserves their due process, including Mr. Mohamed … but if it does turn out to be true, it is a little disappointing,” said Kevin Falconer, the mayor of Carrollton who is up for reelection. “Carrollton residents and citizens really deserve better than that. Our system is based on a fair process in the elective process, and that certainly doesn’t work well if you have that kind of business going on.”

According to an arrest warrant, the county elections office met with the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 23 regarding possible fraudulent applications for mail-in ballots. The warrant says Elections Administrator Frank Phillips said the signatures on about 70 requests for mail-in ballots had similar handwriting, and 11 of them were duplicates for applications that had already been sent in.

Investigators met with 10 of the 11 Carrollton voters and learned the applications with the 1565 W. Main St. addresses were fraudulent. Those 10 residents identified their real mail-in ballot requests and said the signatures on the applications with the Lewisville address were not theirs, according to the warrant.

In total, the warrant says 84 applications for mail-in ballots were fraudulent.

Denton County investigators placed a tracking device inside a box containing 25 official mail ballots and carrier envelopes in order to find who had requested the ballots. Mohamed arrived at the mail business, Send My Parcels, on Tuesday afternoon, and sheriff’s deputies followed him to a residence in Carrollton, the warrant says.

After obtaining a search warrant, deputies found a fictitious Texas driver’s license and University of North Texas student ID used to obtain the P.O. box, according to a news release. They also found a box containing the requested ballots, with several of the ballots already opened.

Dallas County court records show Mohamed previously was arrested and charged with family violence assault in 2010. He was sentenced to one year of probation in March 2011 and fined $500.

Mohamed is currently sitting in the Denton County Jail in lieu of $332,500 bail.

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @zairalperez.

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