A former Colorado elections manager pleaded guilty on Wednesday to involvement in a security breach of voting equipment after striking a plea deal that would require her to testify against her former boss.
Sandra Brown, 45, pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant, which is a felony in Colorado. She also pleaded guilty to official misconduct, which is a misdemeanor. She will not be sentenced until the trial of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, whom she will testify against.
Brown was one of two people accused of aiding Peters as she sought to copy a hard drive during an election equipment update in order to look for proof of false election fraud claims propagated by former President Donald Trump, per CBS News.
Belinda Knisley, the other accused employee, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in August under the same plea deal. She was sentenced automatically to a maximum of two years of unsupervised probation.
Peters’s list of charges is extensive: two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, and one count each of identity theft, first-degree official misconduct, violation of duty, and failing to comply with the secretary of state.
The clerk entered the national spotlight for promoting conspiracy theories about voting machines. She also lost a bid to become the Republican candidate for Colorado secretary of state earlier this year.
She has dismissed the charges as “politically motivated” and pleaded not guilty in September.
Knisley provided a false security badge to a man hired by Peters to make the hard drive copy, according to arrest affidavits. Brown was present at the time the copy was produced and she conspired to misrepresent the badge user’s identity, according to officials.
Brown had contacted the secretary of state’s office prior to the crime, asking for an equipment update, but she knew that the person was a computer expert who wouldn’t be able to help, according to prosecutor Dan Rubinstein.
Another person then used the badge for that expert to get into the room and copy the hard drive, Rubinstein said. That person has not been charged, per CBS News. Rubinstein said Brown knew she was “setting up a sham.”
The former elections manager’s sentence will be determined based on her testimony in Peters’s trial. Brown’s deal would place her in jail for up to 30 days for the misdemeanor and permit the erasure of the felony conviction after two years following conditions such as community service.
If the judge rejects Brown’s deal, she may withdraw her guilty pleas.