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3rd Trump ally charged with vote machine tampering as Michigan election case grows

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for August 3, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for August 3, 2023 03:16

A Michigan attorney involved in multiple efforts around the country to overturn the 2020 election in support of former President Donald Trump has been charged in connection with accessing and tampering with voting machines in Michigan, according to court records.

The charges against Stefanie Lambert come days after Matthew DePerno, a Republican lawyer who Trump endorsed in an unsuccessful run for Michigan attorney general last year, and former GOP state Rep. Daire Rendon were arraigned in connection with the case.

Lambert, DePerno, and Rendon were named by Attorney General Dana Nessel's office last year as having "orchestrated a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators."

Michigan is one of at least three states where prosecutors say people breached election systems while embracing and spreading Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Investigators there say five vote tabulators were illegally taken from three counties and brought to a hotel room, according to documents released last year by Nessel's office. The tabulators were then broken into and "tests" were performed on the equipment.

Lambert, who is listed in court records under the last name Lambert-Junttila, is charged with undue possession of a voting machine and conspiracy, according to court records. She is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Oakland County, according to a judge's schedule.

She did not immediately respond to requests for comment left by email and a phone message with her attorney.

On a conservative podcast appearance last week, Lambert said that she had been notified of an indictment and had an arraignment scheduled for Aug. 3. She claimed no wrongdoing and said Hilson was "misrepresenting the law."

Special prosecutor D.J. Hilson has been considering charges since September. He convened a grand jury in March to determine whether criminal indictments should be issued, court documents show.

In his statement following the arraignments of DePerno and Rendon, Hilson said "an independent citizens grand jury" authorized charges and that his office did not make any recommendations.

Hilson did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on Lambert's charges.

Hilson was named as a special prosecutor on the case after the attorney general's office determined there was a conflict of interest as Nessel, a Democrat, ran against DePerno in 2022. DePerno was named as a "prime instigator" in the case.

Some of the defendants have argued local clerks gave them permission to take the machines. DePerno has said he "categorically denies any wrongdoing."

A state judge ruled last month that it is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to take a machine without a court order or permission directly from the Secretary of State's office.

Trump, who is now making his third bid for the presidency, was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice on Aug. 1 with conspiracy to defraud the United States among other counts related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Nessel announced last month eight criminal charges each against 16 Republicans who she said submitted false certificates as electors for then-President Trump in Michigan, a state Joe Biden won.

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