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Prosecutor Says Charges Dropped Against Election Software Company for Political Reasons

Prosecutor Says Charges Dropped Against Election Software Company for Political Reasons

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón speaks in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 28, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Zachary Stieber

Zachary Stieber

4/19/2024

Updated: 4/23/2024

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon dropped charges against an election software company’s CEO despite strong evidence of wrongdoing because he was worried about politics, according to a prosecutor who works in Mr. Gascon’s office.
Eric Neff, the prosecutor, who was helping with the case against Konnech CEO Eugene Yu, alleges in a new tort claim that the charges were dropped in 2022 because Mr. Gascon, a Democrat, became concerned after receiving praise from former President Donald Trump.
Mr. Gascon “was overwhelmingly concerned that since he had inadvertently gained Mr. Trump’s ... support, the outlook of such support by prosecuting Mr. Yu would impact his stance and popularity politically,” states Mr. Neff’s claim, a copy of which was obtained by The Epoch Times.
Mr. Gascon first shuffled which officials oversaw Mr. Neff in the prosecution of Mr. Yu. Then, about three weeks later, Mr. Neff’s new supervisor “informed him that management from the DA’s Office had ordered the case to be dismissed,” according to the document.
Mr. Neff objected because he thought the dismissal was illegal in part because the motivation was political gain for Mr. Gascon. That would constitute fraud, because Mr. Gascon and his workers were misrepresenting the reasons for the dismissal, Mr. Neff alleges.
After Mr. Neff complained, he says he was placed on administrative leave as an internal investigation took place. That investigation wrapped up recently. No disciplinary actions were taken against Mr. Neff, and he was reinstated, although he was reassigned to “a much less desirable assignment” in retaliation for his pushback, the document states.
The claim alleges personal injury caused by Mr. Gascon and others. It estimates Mr. Neff suffered $11 million in damages.
“Mr. Neff complained about the unethical and unlawful dismissal of the prosecution against Mr. Eugene Yu and was then retaliated against by George Gascon,” Tom Yu, a lawyer representing Mr. Neff, told The Epoch Times via email. “We look forward to seeking justice for Mr. Neff.”
Mr. Gascon’s office declined to comment. “The office does not comment on personnel matters,” a spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.
The county has not responded to the claim, Mr. Neff’s lawyer said.
Los Angeles County settled a lawsuit filed by Mr. Yu after the charges were dropped, agreeing to pay the Konnech CEO $5 million.
County lawyers advised the county Board of Supervisors to approve the settlement due to “the risks and uncertainties of litigation.” Their justification noted that all charges against Mr. Yu had been dismissed.
The approval came after Mr. Neff appeared at a meeting and told supervisors they should not approve the settlement.
“Why are we settling a claim for lack of probable cause, after the DA decided, after they became aware of all these supposed problems with the case, they still went ahead with filing a complaint?” Mr. Neff wondered. He said the timing of the request might be linked to Mr. Gascon’s re-election campaign.
Mr. Gascon won enough votes earlier this year to advance to a runoff election, which will take place in November.

Charges Suddenly Dropped

Mr. Gascon’s office announced the charges against Mr. Yu in October 2022. Prosecutors said evidence showed Mr. Yu stole the personal information of poll workers and stored that data on servers in China, which was outside the scope of a $2.9 million contract the county had with Michigan-based Konnech.
“Data breaches are an ongoing threat to our digital way of life. When we entrust a company to hold our confidential data, they must be willing and able to protect our personal identifying information from theft. Otherwise, we are all victims,” Mr. Gascon said at the time.
According to charging documents signed by Mr. Neff, he said that the breach was “probably the largest data breach in United States history.”
Mr. Gascon’s office, though, soon asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to dismiss the charges. The judge did so on Nov. 9, 2022.
“We are concerned about both the pace of the investigation and the potential bias in the presentation and investigation of the evidence,” Tiffiny Blacknell, a spokeswoman for the office, told The Epoch Times in an email at the time. “As a result, we have decided to ask the court to dismiss the current case, and alert the public in order to ensure transparency.”
A lawyer for Mr. Yu said his “good name was tarnished” by the allegations.
Ms. Blacknell also said that prosecutors had assembled a new team to explore whether any criminal activity occurred. It has not issued an update since on what the new team found.
“Our office has an ongoing obligation to continually reassess the case in light of all of the available evidence. We currently have an immense volume of digital data that will define this case, but the processing of that data will take months,” Ms. Blacknell said. “We would not be able to fairly and accurately process and present all of that evidence within the statutory timeframes. For all of the aforementioned reasons, it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the current prosecution until all of the available evidence can be processed and understood.”
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Zachary Stieber

Zachary Stieber

Author

Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at zack.stieber@epochtimes.com

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