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Tina Peters barred from going to work in first court appearance since indictment

Mesa Clerk Tina Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley are accused in a security breach in Colorado, stemming from an attempt to find proof of a rigged election.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters will not be allowed to go to work under conditions set by a judge in a Thursday court appearance, her first since a grand jury indicted her on multiple charges related to a data breach involving the county's election equipment.

District Court Judge Matthew Barrett also told Peters she is not to have contact with anyone who works at the clerk’s office. That includes Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley, who also made a court appearance Thursday for charges related to the same investigation. Knisley, too, cannot contact employees of the clerk's office.

While bonds were set at $500,000 for both the day prior, the judge issued Knisley a $10,000 personal recognizance bond at her hearing. The judge gave Peters, who is running to become Colorado Secretary of State, a $25,000 cash-only secured bond that must be posted in her name. As of Thursday night, the sheriff's office said both had bonded out of jail.

District Attorney Dan Rubenstein requested that Peters not be allowed to travel, citing Peters' exit from the state after details of the data breach went public in August of last year. The judge ordered Peters to turn over her passport within 48 hours and said she cannot leave the state. An exception could be made for Peters to attend the funeral of her father, who died Wednesday night in North Carolina according to Peters' attorney.

> Watch the full court appearance:

Peters has been indicted on 10 charges and Knisley on six, all stemming for the breach that resulted in passwords for Mesa County's Dominion Voting Systems software ending up online.

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According to the indictment, Peters and Knisley violated state rules to get an unknown man into the in-person upgrade of voting equipment in May 2021.

Secretary of State rules specify that only representatives from that office, Dominion Voting experts and a few designated county elections staff may be present for the upgrade, which is known as a "trusted build." No members of the public are allowed, according to the indictment.

Peters and Knisley had security cameras turned off and had county staff create access for a temporary employee to be present at the upgrade. The access was designated for Gerald "Jerry" Wood, whom Peters contacted for potential contract work on the Dominion Voting machines.

Wood testified that he met once with Peters and Knisley before the upgrade and then returned an access badge that was created for him. He never worked for Mesa County in any capacity and wasn't present during the "trusted build," but an unknown person used his badge to attend the upgrade, according to the indictment. 

Peters and Knisley are both scheduled to make their next court appearances on May 24.

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