Colorado County Clerk Charged with Cybercrime

Formal charges have been filed against a deputy county clerk from Colorado who allegedly entered a county building and used her boss’s computer after being placed on paid leave. 

Belinda Gail Knisley, who works for Mesa County, was placed on administrative leave by the county’s director of human resources on August 23. 

According to an affidavit, the county suspended Knisley after receiving numerous complaints from multiple sources that she had “engaged in inappropriate, unprofessional conduct in the workplace.”

Mesa County’s IT team disabled Knisley’s access to Mesa County computers, networks, and servers on the same day that she was placed on leave. 

Two days later, Knisley was found inside a secure area in the county DMV office, allegedly attempting to print documents from a work computer belonging to Mesa County clerk and recorder, Tina Peters.

County officials were alerted to Knisley’s presence when several print-request emails were sent to Mesa County’s IT department from an email address belonging to Peters. 

“Items were sent to the print server, but were not ultimately printed,” states the affidavit. 

“What those items were was not immediately clear and remains under investigation.”

A search warrant executed for Peters’ Mesa County work notebook computer appeared to show that Knisley had used Peters’ workstation to access the secure Mesa County computer network.

The affidavit alleges that Knisley gained access by using Peters’ password and her yubikey – a physical dongle that is plugged into a computer assigned to a unique user to validate their credentials. 

The 66-year-old suspended deputy clerk turned herself in to authorities on September 1 after a warrant was issued for her arrest. 

Knisley has been charged with second-degree burglary of a building, a class 4 felony, and cybercrime – unauthorized access, a class 2 misdemeanor.

On Thursday, the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office stated that the charges levied against the deputy county clerk are not part of an ongoing probe by its office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into possible election security breaches concerning voting equipment belonging to Mesa County. 

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