The start date of the election fraud trial against Imperial County Board of Education Trustee Annette Gonzalez-Buttner was posted until the end of March. | CALEXICO CHRONICLE GRAPHIC

Gonzalez-Buttner Sentenced to 3 Years Jail

ICOE Trustee Convicted of Election Fraud Was Remanded into Custody on Thursday, June 3.

BRAWLEY — County Board of Education Trustee Annette Gonzalez-Buttner was sentenced to three years of incarceration and one year of supervised probation on Thursday, June 3 in connection to previously being found guilty of four felony counts.

Buttner was immediately remanded to the custody of the county Sheriff’s Office following the sentence by county Superior Court Judge Christopher Plourd, despite her defense attorney’s request to allow her to self-surrender at a future date.

Defense attorney Jill Cremeans indicated that Gonzalez-Buttner will appeal the sentence. Plourd also denied Cremeans’ request that Gonzalez-Buttner remain free on bail pending the appeal.

“Today’s the day, now is the time,” Plourd said in response to the request.

Although Plourd had determined that Gonzalez-Buttner was eligible for probation, he stated that the nature and seriousness of her crimes negated her being granted probation in place of incarceration. Gonzalez-Buttner will serve out her sentence in the county jail.

“I don’t think overall that she is a suitable candidate for probation,” Plourd said prior to handing down the sentence at the Brawley courthouse’s east department.

On April 23, a jury found Gonzalez-Buttner guilty of perjury by declaration related to a 2017 candidate intention statement, filing a false declaration of candidacy, grand theft and perjury by declaration related to her driver’s license renewal form.

In doing so, the jury agreed with the prosecution that Gonzalez-Buttner moved to Santa Clara in 2014 and had established her permanent residence, or domicile, outside of Calexico, the area she was elected to represent on the Board of Education.

“I do not believe that Ms. Buttner for one moment believed that her domicile was in Calexico,” Plourd said.

Prior to her sentencing hearing, the court heard arguments for the defense attorney’s motion for a new trial. Although the motion had argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict Gonzalez-Buttner of the charges, Plourd determined that there was “overwhelming evidence” that the defendant had indeed relocated to Santa Clara County on a permanent basis. 

Gonzalez-Buttner’s three years of incarceration represent the middle term for the perjury conviction related to the 2017 candidate intention statement, the most serious count of the four charges she had faced, Plourd said.

He stayed the two respective two-year sentences associated with the convictions of filing a false declaration of candidacy and grand theft.

The court also imposed a one-year sentence for her conviction for the perjury charge related to the fraudulent driver’s license form. That one year-term represented one-third of the middle term that the court decided to impose.

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