A woman was sentenced Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas, to five years in prison for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election while she was on supervised release from a fraud conviction.
Crystal Mason, 43, a mother of two, was released from prison after serving almost three years for a tax fraud conviction in 2011, the Star-Telegram reported. She waived her right to a jury trial and had her sentence assessed instead, which state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez decided.
In court, Mason said she voted at the urging of her mother, who insisted, and had never been told she was not allowed to vote. When she went to vote, her name was not on the voter roll, but an election worker walked her through how to vote provisionally after signing an affidavit, she said.
Gonzalez asked during testimony why Mason didn't read the affidavit, which has a list of requirements to vote, including that the voter is not a felon or has served their full sentence, the Dallas News reported. Mason said she did not read it closely because an official was helping her.
Mason told the judge about getting to watch her daughter graduate when she was released from prison and that she now wants to see her son graduate, adding that she would never have voted if she knew it would jeopardize that.
The mother of two also said she had served her time for tax fraud and "would never do that again."
Mason was sentenced in 2011 after pleading guilty to fraud that stemmed from a tax-preparation business she had with her now ex-husband. The couple submitted inflated tax refunds to the Internal Revenue Service, and she was ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution as part of her plea agreement, the Star-Telegram reported.
The judge had the option to sentence Mason to between two and 20 years in prison or probation for illegally voting.
J. Warren St. John, Mason's defense attorney, said he had filed an appeal following the sentencing. BuzzFeed News has reached out to the defense attorney and prosecutor's office for more information.
"She was never told that she couldn't vote, and she voted in good faith," St. John told the Star-Telegram after sentencing. "Why would she risk going back to prison for something that is not going to change her life?"
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at email@example.com.
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