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Veteran Latino-rights advocate charged with voter fraud

June 25, 2009 |  7:09 am

Felony charges have been filed and an arrest warrant issued for a well-known Orange County political activist suspected of committing election and voter registration fraud, the California secretary of State's office announced Wednesday.

Investigators in the agency's election-fraud unit said Nativo V. Lopez, 57, of Santa Ana leased office space in Boyle Heights and registered to vote using that address although he lived with his family in Orange County. They also say Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Assn., cast an illegal ballot in L.A. in the 2008 presidential primary.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which is working with the secretary of State, charged Lopez with four felonies: fraudulent voter registration, fraudulent document filing, perjury and fraudulent voting. A warrant was issued for his arrest and bail was set at $10,000. The offenses carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

Lopez is a longtime Latino political-rights advocate in Orange County who served on the Santa Ana school board. Lopez has been a vocal advocate for Latino voting rights and supported immigrant amnesty and allowing undocumented workers to have driver's licenses. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 1997, the Orange County district attorney opened a criminal investigation into allegations that a group in which Lopez was a leader registered some clients to vote before they took the oath of citizenship. No criminal charges were brought, and Lopez demanded an apology from critics.

-- Dan Weikel and Shelby Grad

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