OCEANSIDE, Calif. (CN) – A congressional candidate who lied to investigators about his involvement in a threatening letter sent to Latino voters was sentenced Monday to a year in prison. Tan Nguyen, a Republican, was defeated by Loretta Sanchez in the 2006 election. A federal jury convicted him of obstruction of justice in December.
Nguyen, of Oceanside, lied to the California Department of Justice, which was investigating complaints from Latino voters in the 47th Congressional District in Orange County.
Fourteen thousand voters in the district received a letter in Spanish, threatening them with prison and deportation if they voted.
Nguyen told investigators that his campaign volunteers had created the letter without his knowledge. The federal jury decided he lied and obstructed justice.
The letter stated, in part:
“You are being sent this letter because you were recently registered to vote. If you are a citizen of the United States, we ask that you participate in the democratic process of voting.
“You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having the right to do so.”
The letter carried a letterhead similar to that of the anti-illegal immigration group California Coalition for Immigration Reform, which did not send the letter.
State prosecutors could not prove that the mass mailing itself was illegal, as the letter did not specifically intimidate legal voters.
Nguyen must report to prison on March 28.