A key witness in one of the state's biggest election scandals is speaking out on the eve of the primary election. Jerry Wood says Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who is in the running to be the state's chief election officer, is a thief and a liar who just wants attention.
Peters says Wood is an opportunist who is just trying to prevent her from winning the Republican nomination for Secretary of State. In March, Peters was indicted by a Mesa County Grand Jury on felony charges including criminal impersonation and identity theft. Wood was initially a suspect in the case.
He and his wife, Wendi, a church pastor, say the controversy has turned their lives upside down. They say law enforcement has been to their house twice to search the place and seize all their electronics.
Wendi says they and their five kids were sleeping when FBI agents showed up at 6 a.m. last November.
"You could hear pounding and yelling, and I just ran out and could see tactical shield in window that said FBI across it."
Wood says the nightmare started after he applied for a computer consulting position at the Clerk's Office.
"I was thinking I can help out my county, do a little work on the side, make some extra money."
He passed a background check, got a security badge and, he says, gave it to Peters who, he says, told him she'd call if she needed him. Instead, according to the indictment, Peters used the badge to allow outsiders to access election equipment, copy hard drives and post passwords online.
"I was always felt comfortable I could prove innocence pretty easily," said Wood, who provided pictures showing on the day his badge was used he was at a graduation party.
Peters says he may not have been in the office, but he knew she was using his badge to protect the identity of the cyber expert who was there instead.
"(Jerry) never filled out an employment application. That right there should give you an idea," said Peters. "He knew what was going to happen with his badge."
She says he gave her permission to use the badge to gain access to the equipment.
"Then he bragged about how he was grateful, he was glad he could do this for his country."
Peters maintains she did nothing wrong.
"I didn't even know the Secretary of State had secret passwords into Mesa County equipment... until later on when those pictures and video came out."
She says Wood even flew with her to meet the cyber expert.
"If he thinks I had stolen his identity, why didn't he file a police report?"
Wood says he's received hate mail as a result of what he insists are lies and slander, "I would ask her to stop the character assassination."
Wood's wife says they're only going public now because Peter's accused her husband of perjury.
"I think about Tina's slogan 'truth matters.' That's what I hope people think about. The truth actually does matter and she hasn't been speaking the truth."
Peters say the couple is speaking now because they support one of her opponents in the Secretary of State primary, "I will always tell the truth."
Wood says he was cleared of wrongdoing by the Mesa County District Attorney, but is still under federal investigation.
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