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Mesa County deputy clerk formally charged with burglary, cybercrime

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Posted at 1:40 PM, Sep 09, 2021

DENVER – Formal charges were filed Thursday against Mesa County Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley in connection with her allegedly being at a county building and using her boss’s computer while she is on administrative leave.

Knisley, 66, was charged with second-degree burglary, a class 4 felony, and cybercrime — unauthorized access, a class 2 misdemeanor. She said little at her court appearance, and her attorney requested a preliminary hearing or arraignment in the case.

Judge Matthew Barrett ordered a review hearing be held in the case on Sept. 30.

The 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office reiterated Thursday that the charges are separate from the office’s ongoing criminal investigation into election security breaches involving Mesa County’s voting equipment. No arrests have been made in that case, the district attorney’s office said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an investigation.

Knisley turned herself in on Sept. 1 after a warrant was issued for her arrest in the case in which she faces charges.

Knisley was put on administrative leave with pay by the county’s human resources director on Aug. 23. According to an affidavit, on Aug. 25, count officials found Knisley at a county office – which she is prohibited from entering while she is suspended – and allegedly tried to use County Clerk Tina Peters’ laptop to access the county computer network.

Knisley and Peters were sued by Griswold and a Mesa County elector on Monday as Griswold seeks to remove Peters as the county’s designated election official and to bar her and Knisley from any oversight or involvement with this November’s election.

The Department of State’s investigation into the election security breaches found that Knisley and Sandra Brown, another Clerk and Recorder employee, helped a man named Gerald Wood who does not work for the county, get into a May 25 “trusted build” of the election system by misrepresenting Wood’s role. That trusted build is where officials believe images were taken of secret passwords used by the Mesa County voting system.