As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, another precipitous development in the felony case against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters today as her indicted Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley cops a plea and an expected light sentence–in exchange for Knisley’s cooperation in the felony prosecution of her erstwhile boss:
Belinda Knisley, the sidelined deputy under Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, is to enter into a plea agreement with prosecutors later today that will keep her out of prison in exchange for testifying against Peters and other co-conspirators in her case, according to documents filed with the court this morning.
Under the deal, which Knisley has signed, the deputy clerk is to fully cooperate with state and federal prosecutors in any pending or future cases against Peters, her now fired elections manager, Sandra Brown and anyone else who may be charged in relation to the case.
“The defendant participated in a formal recorded proffer interview with state and federal prosecutors and law enforcement in these cases on June 8, 2022,” the plea deal reads.
“In that interview, the defendants explained that beginning in April 2021 and into May 2021, she was aware of and participated in a scheme with Tina Peters and other identified people to deceive public servants from both the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and Mesa County,” the plea deal adds. “This scheme, which was significantly directed by Tina Peters, [Pols emphasis] ultimately permitted an unauthorized individual to gain access to secure areas inside the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office so that this person — fraudulently held out to be improperly titled as Gerald Wood, but who was later identified to actually be Conan Hayes — could participate in Mesa County’s trusted build with Tina Peters and Sandra Brown.”
The plea deal keeps Belinda Knisley out of jail, and allows Knisley a resolution with only a misdemeanor conviction instead of the two decades of prison time she originally faced for a range of felony and misdemeanor charges. That’s as long as she continues to faithfully cooperate in the case against Peters, and if Knisley reneges on that agreement the previous charges against her can be reinstated.
Knisley’s cooperation with prosecutors is worst-case scenario news for Clerk Peters, who looks increasingly likely to take a big fall in this case if she doesn’t come to her senses and start negotiating a plea deal of her own. For the last year, Peters has been celebrated by the election denier movement as a “martyr” for the cause of so-called “election integrity,” even though the only actual breach of election security uncovered in Peters’ case is the breach she committed. Flown in private jets around the country and given the red carpet treatment at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate for the premiere of a movie about totally unrelated election conspiracy theories, it was easy for Peters to keep distracted from the looming criminal case against her–especially as a candidate for office, which gave her exceptional privileges as a pre-trial accused felon.
Trump doesn’t care about Clerk Peters. She made a terrible mistake out of misguided loyalty to a man who doesn’t reciprocate loyalty unless it suits him. Tina Peters is a criminal, but she is also a victim of a much greater crime.
The sooner Peters (or her counsel) realize that, the sooner this can all be over.
And perhaps Republicans who are so obsessed with recalls should consider attempting to boot someone who ACTUALLY COMMITTED CRIMES.z b iYXItKvmzQVL EJh Q eHpW A