Former Mesa County Chief Electoral Officer Sandra Brown was arrested this week on suspicion of conspiracy to impersonate a criminal and attempt to influence a public official, the latest person to face charges. legal issues for an incident last year that resulted in a security breach of the county’s election system. .
Brown surrendered on Monday and was released Tuesday on a personal recognizance of $15,000.00, while reported for the first time by The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
She is the third person to face criminal charges in the security breach case. Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and her deputy clerk Belinda Knisely were indicted by a grand jury earlier this year on misdemeanor and felony charges. The central allegation is that Peters and Knisely aided an unauthorized person in the room for a secure software update and illegally copied the system’s hard drive.
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Brown misrepresented who would be present during this 2021 software system update, according to the 15-page arrest affidavit. In an email Brown sent to the secretary of state’s office, she wrote that Gerald Wood, listed as an administrative assistant, would be present during the update.
In fact, the plan was never to have Wood present during the update, according to authorities and previous documents related to the grand jury indictment of Peters and Knisley. Wood told the Colorado Sun last month that he is not involved in the security breach.
Investigators allege Peters stole Wood’s identity to allow an unauthorized person to attend the update. In Brown’s arrest affidavit, that person is identified by authorities as Conan Hayes, a former professional surfer and election conspirator.
The affidavit alleges that when Peters introduced Hayes as Wood during the update, Brown was nearby and did not correct Peters.
The affidavit includes phone and cellphone records showing that Hayes visited Grand Junction from May 22-26, 2021, around the time of the secure update. Garfield County resident Sherronna Bishop, a former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert and an ally of Peters, paid for the hotel room. Neither Hayes nor Bishop have been charged.
Investigators have found ‘probable cause that the key cards attributed to Peters, Wood and Brown were in the election office on the days the (computerized voting machine) was photographed and Brown aided and conspired with their plan global and their crimes”.
“Brown’s actions, statements and/or inactions were a (successful) attempt to influence the official’s decisions and actions before and during the building of trust through Sandra’s misrepresentations,” investigator James Cannon wrote. “Wood is no longer the target of the investigation. The person who performed this computer service using Wood’s identity is still under investigation.