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3rd person arrested in Mesa County election tampering investigation

Sandra Brown is accused of conspiring to allow a unauthorized person to attend a trusted build, where an illegal image of a hard drive was made.

MESA COUNTY, Colo. — A third person has been arrested in Mesa County as part of an election tampering investigation.

Former Elections Manager Sandra Brown turned herself into the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) on Monday on felony charges of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and attempting to influence a public servant. She was released roughly 24 hours later after posting a $15,000 personal recognizance bond.

RELATED: Grand jury indicts Mesa County clerk Tina Peters in election tampering

In March, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and former employee Belinda Knisley were indicted by a grand jury for numerous criminal actions.

According to Brown's warrant, she was involved in a plot that allowed an unauthorized person to gain access to the "trusted build" – which is part of the process of verifying software for the county's voting system – in May 2021, where copies of election hardware were made.

RELATED: No outside interference in Mesa County's 2020 election, investigation finds

Only required personnel from Dominion, the Secretary of State's Office and the county were permitted in the area during the process. According to court documents, Peters, Knisley and Brown conspired to allow an unauthorized person to be there, as well.

Cameras turned off

The trusted build process was supposed to be done under video recording that did not capture any sensitive information; however, the document indicates cameras were turned off.

The last video footage taken on May 17, 2021, shows Peters and Brown having an "obvious interest" in locating the cameras in the tabulation room. Brown also appears to be taking photos of the room.

When asked, the person responsible for making sure the cameras are in working order told investigators he could not recall any time in the past years that they had been turned off.

Employment misrepresentation

Leading up to the trust build, the employment of a man named Jerry Wood was misrepresented, the warrant says.

Brown wrote in an email that he was an "administrative assistant," but when that email was written, that position was vacant and there was no current job posting.

During a conversation, Peters presented Woods as a Department of Motor Vehicle employee who was transferring to the elections division and would report to Brown. According to the warrant, that was not true, and Brown was present and heard that comment but made no effort to dispute the claim.

An employee reported that she was told to complete a background check for Wood, even though she had never met him in person or seen any human resources paperwork for him. She assumed he was replacing their prior admin, but said she was unaware the job had been posted.

Wood was granted a keycard badge, but on May 19, Knisely took that keycard. After that, Wood never returned to do any work for the elections department, the warrant says.

The Trusted Build

The trusted build was completed on May 25 and May 26, 2021, and was attended by a person going by the name of Jerry Wood, the warrant says.

On May 26, after the trusted build, key cards from both Peters and Brown were used to access elections areas after normal business hours.

It was later determined that someone illegally took a second digital image of the Dominion hard drive. That second image was acquired around 5:43 p.m.

According to the warrant, a man by the name of Conan Hayes attended the process using Wood's key card. The cameras had been turned off as part of an effort to protect Hayes' identity, the warrant says.

Knisley reported, according to the warrant, that they got a device to take the hard drive images but had to leave it running because Hayes had to leave. Brown had to finish making the image, the warrant says.

Cellphone data supported her claims that Hayes left Mesa County and returned to California prior to the image being completed.

The next day, according to records obtained by investigators, a shipment was made to Hayes from Peters with an election employee as the "shipper." The "shipper" described the item as "wrapped in plastic wrap."

Credit: MCSO
Sandra Brown

Brown faces the following charges:

  • Attempt to influence a public servant
  • Conspiracy to commit criminal personation

She's next due in court on July 28.

According to the warrant, Wood is not the target of a criminal investigation, but the person who used Wood's keycard remains under investigation.


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