A worker pleads guilty to tampering with election equipment
worker pleads guilty: Prosecutors say that a former elections manager in a county in Colorado helped break into the security of voting equipment. That person pleaded guilty on Wednesday as part of a deal that requires her to testify against her former boss. Sandra Brown is one of two employees who are accused of helping Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters let a copy of a hard drive be made last year during an update of election equipment. This was done to find proof of the false conspiracy theories that former President Donald Trump made up.
Brown, 45, pleaded guilty to trying to influence a public servant, which is a felony, and to official misconduct, which is a misdemeanor. She will not be sentenced until right after she testifies at Peters’ trial next year, so that her performance on the witness stand can be taken into account. Brown told Judge Matthew Barrett, “There were things going on that I should have questioned, but I didn’t.”
Belinda Knisley, Peters’ top assistant, also pleaded guilty in August as part of a deal that required her to testify against Peters. She only admitted to petty crimes, so she was given two years of probation without supervision right away.
Peters gained national prominence by promoting conspiracy theories about voting machines and lost a bid to become the Republican candidate for Colorado’s secretary of state, who oversees elections, earlier this year. She is charged with three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, one count of identity theft, first-degree official misconduct, violation of duty, and failing to comply with the secretary of state. She has denied the accusations and said that they are based on politics. She has pleaded not guilty.
Brown’s arrest affidavit says Knisley helped a man Peters said she was hiring in the clerk’s office get a security badge. It said that Peters then used it to let someone else, who wasn’t supposed to be in the room, copy the hard drive of the election equipment during the May 2021 update. It said that Brown was there when the copy was made and worked with other people to lie about who was using the badge.
During Brown’s plea hearing, District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told Judge Matthew Barrett that Brown called the secretary of state’s office and asked for an administrative assistant to be allowed to attend the update. However, Brown knew that person was really a computer expert and would not have been allowed to attend. He said that the expert’s credentials were then used by someone else to get into the room and make a copy of the hard drive. That person hasn’t been accused of anything.
Rubinstein said of Brown, “She knew she was putting on a show.” When a photo and video of secret voting system passwords were shared on social media and a conservative website, state election officials found out about the security breach.
Brown’s deal, which Barrett will not decide whether to accept until sentencing, would allow her to serve up to 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor. It would allow the felony conviction to be erased after two years if she complies with the conditions he sets, such as requiring community service, for those two years. If Barrett rejects the plea deal, Brown could withdraw her guilty pleas.
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