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Records: Michigan voting machines exchanged at mall, ‘manipulated’ in hotels

Matthew DePerno,
Attorney Matthew DePerno was “frequently” present as Michigan voting machines were experimented on in various Oakland County hotels and residences, the special prosecutor alleges (Bridge file photo)
  • Prosecutor reveals new allegations in case against Trump loyalists accused of illegally accessing voting machines
  • Court filing claims Matthew DePerno and Stefanie Lambert used a private eye to collect the machines for testing in hotel rooms
  • DePerno and Lambert have denied wrongdoing in the case

LANSING — Pro-Trump attorneys and a Michigan lawmaker enlisted a private investigator to collect 2020 voting machines that were later "manipulated" during testing in Oakland County hotels, according to newly disclosed allegations by a special prosecutor. 

In a Thursday court filing, special prosecutor D.J. Hilson alleged the group — sprearheaded by attorneys Matthew DePerno, Stefanie Lambert (Junttila) and then-state Rep. Daire Rendon – kept some of the illegally obtained election equipment for months.


A private investigator they worked with, Michael Lynch, allegedly hosted the group in his Royal Oak condominium in 2021 as a professional videographer filmed testing on one of the machines in an attempt to prove it had been rigged against former President Donald Trump. 


In one case, a clerk from rural Missaukee County — who Rendon persuaded to provide her equipment — was only able to retrieve it after driving nearly three hours south to meet Lynch in the parking lot of the Great Lakes Crossing Mall in Auburn Hills, according to Hilson.

Hilson said those new revelations stem from a Michigan State Police investigation that prompted a citizen grand jury to authorize multiple felony charges against DePerno, Lambert and Rendon, who were each arraigned last week in Oakland County Circuit Court. 

Lambert, a metro Detroit attorney who has worked for pro-Trump clients in multiple states, is asking the court to move her case to Antrim County in northern Michigan, where DePerno in late 2020 won a court order that allowed him legal access to voting machines there. 

Hilson contends the new tabulator tampering charges have nothing to do with Antrim County. 

Instead, the case centers on voting machines from Missaukee, Roscommon and Barry counties that were taken to Oakland County without any legal authority, he contended in a filing opposing Lambert’s request for a venue change.

For the first time, Hilson publicly outlined the alleged role of Lynch, a former security official for DTE Energy. As Bridge Michigan previously reported, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf also used Lynch — at Lambert’s suggestion — to question local clerks in his community following the 2020 election. 

Lynch, who could not be reached for comment on this story, is not facing any charges related to the tabulator tampering probe. 

Nor is Leaf, who was among the initial suspects identified last year. 

Hilson last week announced that only Lambert, DePerno and Rendon would be charged. He did not immediately respond to new questions from Bridge on Friday afternoon. 

But in his new court filing, the special prosecutor alleges: 

  • Lynch, who was working at the request and “direction” of Lambert, collected voting equipment from local clerks in Lake Township (Missaukee County), Roscommon County, Richfield Township (in Roscommon) and Irving Township (Barry County) beginning in March of 2021.
  • Rendon, who was an elected state lawmaker from Missaukee County, contacted Lake Township Clerk Korinda Winkelmann asking her to provide equipment to Lynch as part of a 2020 election "audit." Rendon had also contacted other township and county clerks in her district to request they provide ballot tabulators to Lynch.
  • Lynch took the voting equipment to hotel rooms in Oakland County. There, and in other Oakland County "residences," DePerno and Lambert were "frequently" present as purported technology experts performed "tests and/or experiments" on the machines.
  • During those experiments, “the internal content of the machines was accessed, and the computer system itself was manipulated.”
  • At one point, the group hired a professional videographer to film "various tests" on a tabulator from Lake Township. The video, filmed inside Lynch's Royal Oak condominium, featured self-described technology expert Jeffrey Lenberg and was later posted to DePerno's law firm website.
  • The group kept the equipment longer than local clerks had expected. Lynch returned various machines in April, June and finally September 2021, when he met the Lake Township clerk in the Great Lakes Crossing Mall parking lot for the exchange. 

As with all criminal charges, allegations are not proof of a crime and the suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.

The new allegations follow denials by DePerno, the Michigan Republican Party’s 2022 nominee for attorney general, who last year told a radio host that he had “nothing to do with any hotel rooms” in Oakland County, where the tabulators were allegedly taken.

DePerno, who is accused of “willfully damaging a voting machine” and three other related felony charges, has maintained his innocence in the case. 


In a statement released last week, his defense attorney said DePerno “categorically” denies any wrongdoing and “firmly believes that these charges are not based upon any actual truth and are motivated primarily by politics rather than evidence.”

Rendon and Lambert, also charged with related felonies, have not publicly responded since they were arraigned last week on felony charges. 

But Lambert, who last month announced that she expected to be indicted, said then that she had "done absolutely nothing illegal."

Lambert is due back in court on Aug. 23, when Oakland County Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Matis is expected to hold a hearing on her request to move the case to Antrim County. 

Matis has also scheduled status conferences for DePerno and Rendon in September. 

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