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DENVER – A Mesa County judge set a $25,000 cash or surety bond for Tina Peters and ordered her not to have contact with her deputy clerk or any other members of her office, and not to leave the state without the court’s permission, after she was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday.
Peters, the Mesa County clerk and recorder, was indicted on three counts of attempting to influence a public servant; one count of conspiracy to commit attempting to influence a public servant; criminal impersonation; conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation; identity theft; first-degree official misconduct; violation of duty; and failing to comply with the secretary of state.
The charges from the grand jury come in relation to her alleged tampering with election equipment last year. Her deputy clerk, Belinda Knisley, was also indicted on three counts of attempting to influence a public servant; one count of conspiracy to commit attempting to influence a public servant; violation of duty; and failing to comply with the secretary of state.
Peters appeared virtually in the hearing from the Mesa County jail. Jason Jovanovich, her attorney, told the court at the start of the hearing that Peters’ father had died overnight while Peters was in jail.
Jovanovich argued Peters should receive a personal recognizance bond, citing her father’s death, the fact she is a Gold Star mother and an elected official as among the reasons. He said the $500,000 cash bond issued with her arrest warrant was “punitive” and asked for a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.
“At worst, she’s accused of doing her job that she is constitutionally and statutorily supposed to do,” Jovanovich argued, adding later on that “you can indict a ham sandwich.”
But 21st judicial District Attorney Dan Rubinstein, in arguing why Peters should receive a secured bond instead of a personal recognizance bond, disputed that statement, saying Peters has “continued to spiral” and mentioning her actions while officials were trying to serve a search warrant for her iPad, which she allegedly used to record a court hearing involving Knisley.
“I really take issue with the statement of Mr. Jovanovich: ‘At worst, she is accused of doing her job.’ No, that’s not actually the situation at all. A grand jury has returned indictments on seven felony counts and three misdemeanor counts essentially saying she was not doing her job, she was acting well beyond,” Rubinstein said.
He told Judge Matthew Barrett that Peters’ other criminal cases, the allegations that she has conspired with Knisley and others, and her history of leaving the state and working with Mike Lindell should mean she receives a secured bond.
Barrett had issued Knisley a $10,000 personal recognizance bond before Peters’ hearing, with conditions she not contact Peters, clerk and recorder’s office employees, or the victims in the case — or visit the clerk and recorder’s two offices in Clifton and Grand Junction.
Judge Barrett, in considering bond for Peters, called the allegations against Peters “very serious” and said they go to the heart of her employment – actions that have allegedly “undermined the democratic process,” he said.
Barrett said Peters’ past actions “suggest someone who may not and will not comply with bond conditions” if a secured bond was not set.
Rubinstein set Peters’ bond at $25,000 cash or surety, with the condition that if she posts the cash bond, it can only be posted in her name, not that of anyone else.
She will also not be able to contact Knisley, employees of the clerk and recorder’s office, be present at the clerk and recorder’s office. And she will have to surrender her passport within 48 hours of being released from jail, and will have to get permission from the court in order to leave the state.
Peters will have to ask the court to leave the state to visit North Carolina for her father’s funeral once a date is set, per the conditions of her bond.
The next court date for Peters and Knisley was set for the morning May 24. Knisley will have an arraignment in the latest indictment case, and a pre-trial conference for her case involving burglary and cybercrime charges levied last year.
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