Belinda Knisley, deputy secretary of Mesa County, has been suspended and charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor cybercrime on Wednesday.
According to court documents, Knisley’s arrest warrant was issued on Friday, charged with second-degree burglary and unauthorized access to cybercrime. Knisley, 66, surrendered to the 21st District Court on Wednesday.
According to the arrest testimony, on August 23, the chief executive of Mesa County Peter Baier and the county’s public service director issued an official written notice to Knisley, stating that she was “suspended as a Mesa County employee.” Knisley is not an elected official.
The affidavit stated that the reasons for suspension obtained from multiple sources were that Knisley had “performed improper and unprofessional behavior in the workplace”. She cannot access the computer, network, and server.
On August 25, Baier received information that Knisley was on a construction site in Mesa County and that she was escorted out of the same area on August 23. At the construction site, Knisley instructed Mesa County clerk and recorder trainer Julie Fisher, according to the affidavit, that Fisher’s Mesa County work computer had something on it. Byer, who came to the scene, told Knisley that she must leave the scene or she would call the police. On the same day, according to a search warrant issued by the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, investigators took the work laptop from the office of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters.
On Monday, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (Jena Griswold) filed a lawsuit requesting that Peters be removed from his role in overseeing the election because the clerk is under criminal investigation for allegedly allowing the security of election equipment. With the assistance of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the FBI and the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office are investigating suspected violations.
Knisley’s arrest testimony stated that after Knisley was suspended, she was using Peters’ workstation and computer. According to Knisley’s arrest testimony, Peters has not been in her office since August 9.
According to a press release from the Mesa County DA, “The allegations (against Knisley) stemmed from behavior as a county employee after taking paid administrative leave due to confidential personnel issues.” The investigation of criminal activities related to security breaches of voting equipment in the county is separate. There are no arrests related to security breach investigations.”
The allegations of burglary stemmed from deliberately entering the building illegally. In court on Wednesday, Knisley received a personal guarantee of $2,000 and was ordered not to contact the clerical office or its employees. Knisley will appear in court again on September 9 to return to the charges.