Worker pleads guilty to election equipment tampering in Colorado

A former polling commissioner who prosecutors say helped breach security of voting machines in a Colorado county pleaded guilty Wednesday under a plea agreement that requires her to testify against her former boss.

Sandra Brown is one of two employees accused of helping Mesa County Secretary Tina Peters Allowing a copy of a hard drive to be made during an update of voting equipment last year to find evidence of former President Donald Trump’s bogus conspiracy theories.

Brown, 45, pleaded guilty to attempting to influence an officer, a felony and official misconduct, a misdemeanor, but will not be convicted until after she testifies at Peter’s trial next year to allow her performance on the witness stand can be taken into account.

“There were things going on that I should have questioned, but I didn’t,” Brown told Judge Matthew Barrett.

Worker pleads guilty to election equipment tampering in Colorado
An undated photo of Sandra Brown.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Office

In August, Belinda Knisley, Peters’ deputy, also pleaded guilty as part of a deal that required her to testify against Peters. She pleaded guilty to only the misdemeanor and was immediately sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation.

Peter gained national notoriety for spreading conspiracy theories about voting machines and lost a bid will the Republican nominee for Colorado’s secretary of state, who is overseeing the election earlier this year. She is charged with three counts of attempted manipulation of an official, criminal identity theft, two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal identity theft, one count of identity theft, first-degree misconduct, dereliction of duty and non-compliance with the Secretary of State.

She has denied the allegations, calling them politically motivated and pleading not guilty.

According to Brown’s affidavit, Knisley was working to get a security pass for a man Peters said she would hire at the clerk’s office. Peters then used it to allow another, unauthorized person in the room to make a copy of the voting gear hard drive during the May 2021 voting gear update, sources said. Brown was present when the copy was made and conspired to misrepresent the identity of the person using the badge, sources said.

Brown contacted the Secretary of State’s office and requested permission for an administrative assistant to participate in the update, but knew that person was actually a computer expert who should not have participated, District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told Judge Matthew Barrett during Brown’s plea hearing . That expert’s credentials were then used by another person to get into the room and make a copy of the hard drive, he said. This person has not been charged.

“She knew she was setting up a deception,” Rubinstein said of Brown.

Tina Peters, Colorado Elections Secretary
FILE – Tina Peters speaks to supporters at her election observation party in Sedalia, Colorado on June 28, 2022.

Thomas Peipert/AP

State election officials became aware of the security breach when a photo and video of confidential passwords for the voting system were posted on social media and a conservative website.

Brown’s deal, which Barrett won’t rule on pending conviction, would allow her to serve up to 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor. It would allow the felony conviction to be expunged after two years if it met the conditions he set, such as a felony conviction. B. The requirement of community service for these two years. If Barrett refuses the plea deal, Brown could withdraw her guilty pleas.

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