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Former Monterey Park Official Pleads Guilty To Campaign Fraud

Former Monterey Park Councilwoman Sharon Martinez and her co-defendant, campaign consultant Melrose Castillo, pleaded guilty to campaign fraud on Aug. 2.

Appearing before Judge Craig Veals, the two pleaded to one felony count each of publishing a campaign advertisement with an unauthorized signature, according to District Attorney spokesperson Matt Krasnowski.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Ex-Funcionaria de Monterey Park Se Declara Culpable de Fraude Campaña [1]

As part of her plea agreement, Martinez could be sentenced to three years probation, 300 hours of community service and a $1000 fine. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Sean Hassett.

Both defendants are scheduled to appear before a judge on Sept.13 for a sentencing hearing. Other counts could be dismissed at the sentencing hearing, according to Krasnowski.

Martinez and Castillo were facing counts that included forgery, counterfeiting a government seal and an official seal of authorization, attempted forgery and attempting to dissuade a witness.

Under the original charges, the two were facing five years in prison. Most cases end in plea bargains, according to Krasnowski.

The case stems from a campaign flyer targeting fellow councilman Frank Venti during the 2007 election. The District Attorney alleged the two produced the campaign mailer “A Message From Councilman Frank Venti” in which Venti’s signature was forged on a false letter giving his support for County-run fire service.

The D.A. alleges that Martinez used an intermediary to pay a printer $5,000 to produce 4,000 mailers, while Castillo facilitated the production and distribution of the campaign mailer.