POLITICS
12/08/2010 08:32 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ex-GOP House Candidate Convicted In Controversial Mailer Case, Could Face Up To 20 Years Behind Bars

A jury has found a former Orange County congressional candidate guilty of obstruction of justice in a probe of a mailer sent to Latino voters in his 2006 campaign.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, says a federal jury in Santa Ana found former Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen guilty of one charge of obstruction of justice and was hung 9-3 on another charge.

Nguyen was found to have lied about his knowledge of 14,000 mailers sent by his campaign to voters with Latino surnames warning that immigrants couldn't vote. The letter was sent during his bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

The Orange County Register reports:

The letters, in Spanish, ambiguously warned that "emigrados" could go to jail for voting, and falsely stated that immigration reform groups would have new database access to information about new voters. The letterhead mimicked the logo of an anti-illegal immigration group, the California Coalition for Immigration Reform.

Nguyen says he respects the jury's decision, however, his lawyer told the California-based outlet that the likelihood they will appeal the ruling is "very, very high."

He is scheduled to sentenced February 14 and could face a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison.