Activist indicted in Colorado election equipment tampering case

A former election manager who prosecutors say assisted in a security breach of voting equipment in a Colorado county pleaded guilty Wednesday under a plea agreement that required him to testify against his former boss.

Sandra Brown is one of two employees accused of helping Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters Allow made a copy of a hard drive during an update of election equipment last year in search of evidence of false conspiracy theories spread by former President Donald Trump.

Brown, 45, pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant, a felony, and a misdemeanor, a misdemeanor, but he will not be sentenced until next year, right after he testifies at Peters’ trial, so the witness can be released. His performance on the stand can be considered. ,

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

Activist indicted in Colorado election equipment tampering case
An undated photo of Sandra Brown.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Office

In August, Peters’ chief deputy, Belinda Nissley, also pleaded guilty as part of a deal that required her to testify against Peters. He pled guilty only to the misdemeanor counts and was immediately sentenced to two years’ indeterminate probation.

peters gained national prominence by promoting conspiracy theories about voting machines and lost a bid to become The Republican nominee for Colorado secretary of state, who oversees elections earlier this year. he is accused 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, breach of duty and three counts of failing to comply with the Secretary of State with cases.

He denied the charges, calling them politically motivated, and pleaded not guilty.

According to Brown’s arrest affidavit, Nissle worked to obtain security badges for a man Peters said she was hiring in the clerk’s office. Peters then used this to allow another, unauthorized person inside the room to make a copy of the election equipment hard drive during the May 2021 election equipment update. It states that Brown was present when the copy was made and conspired to misrepresent the identity of the person using the badge.

District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told Judge Matthew Barrett during Brown’s plea that Brown contacted the secretary of state’s office to allow an administrative assistant to participate in the update, but he knew that person was actually a There was a computer expert who would not be allowed to participate. the hearing. He said the credentials for that expert were used by someone else to get into the room and copy the hard drive. That person has not been charged.

Rubinstein said of Brown, “She knew she was making a splash.”

Colorado Election Clerk Tina Peters
FILE – Tina Peters speaks to supporters at her Election Watch party on June 28, 2022 in Sedalia, Colo.

Thomas Pipert/AP

State elections officials became aware of the security breach after a picture and video of the secretive voting system password were posted on social media and a conservative website.

Brown’s deal, which Barrett will not decide whether to accept until after sentencing, will allow him to serve up to 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor. It would allow the felony conviction to be expunged after two years if she complies with conditions such as requiring community service for those two years. If Barrett rejects the plea deal, Brown can withdraw her guilty plea.

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