Briefline

Former Mesa County elections manager arrested in election systems security breach case

By: - July 13, 2022 1:37 pm

Sandra Brown, left, and husband Stacy Brown attend a rally in support of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. Sandra Brown was the back office elections manager for Mesa County. The rally took place outside the clerk and recorder’s office on Spruce Street in Grand Junction on Aug. 21, 2021. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)

Former Mesa County elections manager Sandra Brown was arrested this week on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and attempting to influence a public servant, the latest person to face legal trouble for an incident last year that resulted in a security breach of the county’s election system.

Brown turned herself in on Monday and was released on Tuesday on a $15,000.00 personal recognizance bond, as first reported by The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

She is the third person to face criminal charges in the case related to the security breach. Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and her deputy clerk, Belinda Knisley, were indicted by a grand jury earlier this year on misdemeanors and felonies. The central allegation is that Peters and Knisley facilitated an unauthorized person to be in the room for a secure software update and unlawfully copy the system hard drive.

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

Brown misrepresented who would be present during that 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.

Sandra Brown turned herself in on July 11, 2022. (Mugshot courtesy of Mesa County Sheriff’s Office)

In fact, the plan was never to have Wood present at 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 that 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 conspiracist.

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 cell phone records showing that Hayes traveled to Grand Junction from May 22 to 26, 2021, around the time of the secure update. Garfield County resident Sherronna Bishop, the former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert and a Peters ally, paid for the hotel room. Neither Hayes nor Bishop have been charged.

The investigators found “probable cause that the keycards assigned to Peters, Wood and Brown were in the Elections office on the days the (computerized voting machine) was imaged and that Brown assisted and conspired with their overall scheme and crimes.”

“Brown’s actions, statements and/or inactions were a (successful) attempt to influence the public servant’s decisions and actions before and during the trusted build through Sandra’s misrepresentations,” investigator James Cannon wrote. “Wood no longer is a target of the investigation. The person who completed that computer service using Wood’s identity is still under investigation.”

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

MORE FROM AUTHOR