‘Main investigation’ into Tina Peters security breach nearly complete

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DENVER — Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said Tuesday the core part of the joint investigation with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office into alleged violations of election systems by Tina Peters and others is complete. and that he had requested the continuation of a parallel federal investigation.

Rubinstein said he and Attorney General Phil Weiser would ask a judge at Peters’ arraignment, scheduled for Sept. 7, to set a trial date in his case and those of others charged or charged as co-accused. Rubinstein said he wanted a judge to set a date “as soon as possible” for a trial for Peters.

“We have directed the United States Attorney’s Office to continue its investigation of all potential perpetrators of federal crimes related to the events in Mesa County,” Rubinstein said in a press release. “Attorney General Weiser and I are very conscious of the need for this community to move the remaining cases through the court system.”

Rubinstein’s announcement comes less than a week after Deputy Mesa County Clerk and Archivist Belinda Knisley agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Peters, former Chief Electoral Officer Sandra Brown and any other person likely to be charged in connection with the Mesa County election in May 2021. system security breach.

She pleaded guilty on Thursday to three misdemeanors — criminal trespass, breach of duty and first-degree official misconduct — in two separate cases and was sentenced, only avoiding jail time because that was what the plea deal called for, a said Judge Matthew D. Barrett.

Knisley had been indicted alongside Peters by a Mesa County grand jury in March and charged with attempting to influence an official, conspiracy, breach of duty and disrespecting the secretary of state.

Peters was charged with three counts of attempting to influence a public official; a count of conspiracy to commit an attempt to influence a public official; criminal impersonation; conspiracy to impersonate a criminal; identity theft; official misconduct in the first degree; breach of duty; and fail to comply with the Secretary of State.

Peters faces 11 total charges in the election tampering case.

Brown, the former chief electoral officer who was fired for her involvement in last year’s breach, was arrested in July and charged with one count of attempting to influence a public official and two counts of usurpation identity card – all crimes.

Knisley, who was suspended Aug. 23, 2021, and barred from performing work for Mesa County, had participated in an introductory session in early June during which she spoke with state and city investigators. federal government for seven hours over the scheme, allegedly orchestrated by Peters. , to copy hard drive images of county voting systems and allow an unauthorized man named Conan Hayes access to the trusted version of voting machines with the Office of the Secretary of State and Dominion Voting Systems.

What Knisley told investigators during that pleading session led to the charges against Brown and included new details about the alleged scheme and what exactly happened, according to court documents and what Rubinstein said. in court during the Knisley hearing.

The documents say Knisley discussed “other people who may have varying levels of criminal liability for the planning, preparation and/or execution” of the scheme to copy the hard drive images. Knisley told the court she acted on Peters’ orders.

Last August, a video of the trust version and passwords for voting systems was posted online by right-wing conspiracy theorists who sympathize with Peters’ election denial efforts. The copies were posted while she was at Mike Lindell’s so-called campaign symposium.

Federal law enforcement officials have said little about their side of the investigation since it was announced last August that the FBI was involved in determining whether federal crimes had been committed, and as of Tuesday no federal charges have been laid. was lifted against the defendants in the district court.

In addition to the criminal case involving the violation of election systems, Peters also faces a breach of protection order case and a case of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations.

A Mesa County District Attorney’s Office report released in May found no evidence of outside interference in the 2020 or 2021 elections, as claimed by Peters and the others.

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