Laura Seeds is unlikely to see jail time after she was sentenced to six months of house arrest with five years probation for committing voter fraud in her husband Española City Councilor Robert Seeds’ 2016 campaign for his District 4 seat.
First Judicial Court Judge Mary Marlow Sommer rejected Assistant Attorney General Peter Valencia’s characterization that the case would be a benchmark for future voter fraud cases in the state, and his request that Seeds serve two years in prison. The five counts of felony voter fraud she was convicted of could have netted Seeds, 52, more than seven years in prison.
Valencia said her conduct may have swung the results of the election. Robert Seeds won by just two votes and Laura Seeds was found guilty of illegally possessing two absentee ballots and participating in the falsification of signatures on two election documents, as well as conspiring to violate the Municipal Election Code.
Cory Lewis, a former city councilor who lost the race to Robert Seeds said in a Monday interview that city government officials should address the implications of Laura Seeds’ conviction. He previously lost a civil suit challenging the results of the election based on allegedly falsified signatures.
“Everybody knows that I should be in that seat,” he said. “‘When do you get your seat back?’ That’s all I hear everywhere I go.”
Defense Attorney Aaron Wolf said Robert Seeds does not intend to run again, arguing this meant Laura Seeds was not at risk of re-offending.
She apologized before her sentencing to Sommer, prosecutors, Robert Seeds, and the community in general.
“I do take full responsibility for all my actions, especially for the fact that I have failed to properly educate myself in this process—I never in my lifetime would knowingly or maliciously hurt anyone,” she said. “I sincerely apologize for all my actions, Mr. Valencia. I apologize to you for my attitude toward you and the office of the Attorney General.”
On the stand Nov. 6, she said the case against her was a politically motivated “witch hunt” by Attorney General Hector Balderas to thwart her husband’s 2018 bid for Española mayor. Sommer noted the fact Seeds’ pre-sentence speech was the first time she had seemingly acknowledged any guilt in her actions.
Two of Seeds’ sisters testified to hardship in their childhood and Laura Seeds’ ongoing community service, as did several others who spoke to Seeds’ good character.
Valencia pointed to Seeds’ upcoming voter intimidation trial in relation to Robert Seeds’ campaign in the 2018 mayoral election and her call to jury services to learn who indicted her as evidence she did not learn from her charges.
Wolf said the call was “dumb,” but innocent, and that Seeds had heard someone on the grand jury knew her personally and had expressed they did not want to participate. He said Seeds should be presumed innocent until proven guilty in the upcoming case. She has no prior criminal convictions.
Psychotherapist Jerilyn Silver told Sommer that Seeds’ initial arrest and indictment had given her post traumatic stress disorder.
“Further legal consequences would raise lifelong problems and would destroy her life,” she said.
Seeds’ daughter, Angelica Seeds, said Laura Seeds is the primary caregiver for her young daughter when she is at work, and that the loss of her presence would devastate their family.
Wolf said more than two dozen people wrote letters in support of Seeds, including former Española police chief Richard Guillen, who wrote that she served well in her brief time as an officer in the Department and asked for leniency in her sentencing.
Dyon Herrera, originally a co-defendant in the case, is set for sentencing Thursday. He took a last-minute plea deal and testified against Seeds in her trial, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Municipal Election Code in order to drop three other felony voter fraud charges.
Laura and Robert Seeds did not respond to verbal requests for comment outside the courtroom, but a family member with them responded, “Just thank God.”