Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has dropped all charges against Eugene Yu, the CEO of a Michigan-based election software company, pertaining to an investigation into the theft of personal information. Gascon cited “potential bias” in the investigation as part of his reasoning.
Yu’s company, Konnech, sells and distributes software for election administration, and scheduling/paying poll workers. Yu had been under investigation for stealing confidential data and was arrested on October 4.
While Konnech’s contract with Los Angeles County specifies that the election software company is only permitted to store personal information if it is collected securely and access is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
The investigation revealed that this personal information was being stored illegally on servers in China. However, Konnech officials denied the accusations.
These findings originated from True the Vote members Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips. The pair worked with a cyber analyst, revealing that Konnech’s database “stored the personal identifying information of over a million Americans.”
After this discovery, Phillips and Engelbrecht reported their findings to the FBI.
“There were legitimate people who believed that this software posed a national security risk to the United States of America and they were working with us closely to try to stop this from being in place during the midterms,” said Phillips.
Konnech immediately sued True the Vote for defamation.
On the morning of October 31, Engelbrecht and Phillips were arrested and held in contempt of court over their refusal to identify a confidential informant who helped them obtain information that led to the discovery and evidence that Konnech was storing election-related data on servers in China.
After Yu’s arrest, DA Gascon thanked the investigators on the case and said, “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.”
Now, Yu is free of all charges. After dropping the charges, DA Gascon made a statement in which he said, “We are concerned about both the pace of the investigation and the potential bias in the presentation and investigation of the evidence. As a result, we have decided to ask the court to dismiss the current case, and alert the public in order to ensure transparency.”