On Friday morning, 26-year-old Devon Portillo went before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Alpine, Texas, and pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to federal investigators as part of a plea agreement. Portillo remains free on bond pending a sentencing hearing.

The case began over the summer of 2020 when Portillo ran as a Republican to unseat Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson. Portillo’s bid was unsuccessful. According to prosecutors, the charge stems from Portillo lying to FBI agents during an investigation into a racist social media message published to the candidate’s account. Once the old posts came to light, Portillo accused the incumbent sherriff’s political team of fabricating screenshots of the post and even suggested his account might have been hacked prior to publishing the offensive content. Portillo eventually admitted to writing the hateful messages.

At the height of the controversy, in June 2020, Marfa Public Radio reported on a petition to remove Portillo from the ballot.Portillo faces up to 5 years in prison.