A former Carrollton mayoral candidate was indicted Thursday on 109 felony charges related to voter fraud.
The Denton County Sheriff’s Office in October 2020 arrested and charged Zul Mirza Mohamed on 25 counts of unlawful possession of a ballot/ballot envelope without request of the voter and 84 counts of fraudulent use of a mail ballot application. The charges are second- and third-degree felonies, respectively.
A Denton County grand jury Thursday decided to formally charge Mohamed on all 109 counts.
The Denton County Elections Office notified the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 23 of possible fraud involving absentee ballot applications, according to a news release. Documents show 11 duplicate mail-in ballot requests sent to the elections office is what first piqued their interest.
Frank Phillips, the Denton County elections administrator, told the Denton Record-Chronicle in October that this was the first time, to his knowledge, his office had contacted the Sheriff’s Office regarding any type of voter fraud. Phillips has served as the elections administrator from 2009 to 2016, then returned in 2018.
Authorities said someone requested ballots be sent to a post office box in Lewisville, alleged to be a nursing home, but investigators discovered the Carrollton residents connected to those ballots hadn’t actually requested them.
Mohamed allegedly obtained the ballots with a fictitious Texas driver’s license and fictitious University of North Texas student ID.
According to an arrest warrant, 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.
Authorities met with 10 of the 11 Carrollton voters and learned the applications with the 1565 W. Main St. address were fraudulent. Those 10 residents identified their real mail-in ballot requests and said the signatures on the duplicate applications weren’t theirs.
During an investigation, authorities followed Mohamed to the 1600 block of Bennington Drive in Carrollton after learning the box of requested ballots was picked up at the post office. Investigators found the box with requested ballots, several of which had been opened, as well as the fictitious license inside the residence after they obtained a search warrant.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has successfully prosecuted 534 cases of voter fraud against 155 people since 2005. A total of 510 cases are still pending against 43 people, and 386 cases are still under investigation.
According to the Houston Chronicle, only a few dozen cases have resulted in jail time for offenders, and none of them involved widespread fraud.
Each second-degree felony charge Mohamed faces is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Each third-degree felony charge is punishable up to a 10-year prison sentence and a fine up to $10,000.