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Special prosecutor: More investigation needed in DePerno vote tabulator case

Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, a Democrat, is considering whether Republican attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno (above) and others should face criminal charges for allegedly tampering with voting tabulators. (Bridge file photo)
  • Muskegon County prosecutor assigned as special prosecutor in Michigan vote tabulator tampering case says more investigation is needed
  • Probe involves Republican attorney general nominee Matthew DePerno
  • Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel referred case due to conflict of interest

More investigation is needed before a decision can be made on whether to charge attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno and others involved in an alleged Michigan vote tabulator tampering scheme, the special prosecutor assigned to the case said Thursday.

Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, a Democrat, is considering whether the Republican DePerno and eight others should face criminal charges on allegations they tampered with voting machines.

In a Thursday statement, Hilson said he has “an ethical obligation to ensure that all necessary evidence and information is obtained and reviewed so that a determination of criminal charges can be made.” 

“In order to meet that obligation, I have determined that additional investigative work needs to be done and I am working with investigators on those issues,” he continued. 

 

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Hilson was assigned to the case this month by the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council, which intervened after Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office requested a special prosecutor due to a conflict of interest, as she is running against DePerno in the November 2022 election.

Hilson did not say whether his final determination might be offered prior to the Nov. 8 election, noting only that he is “acting as expeditiously as possible.” 

Nessel spokesperson Amber McCann said the attorney general “is confident Prosecutor Hilson will handle this case appropriately.”

The state probe, which began in February, focused on tampering with voting machines used in the 2020 presidential election. Nessel's office alleged  potentially criminal attempts to access those machines to try and prove Trump's unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud cost him that year's contest.

DePerno and state Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, were part of a group accused of "gain(ing) unauthorized access and compromised tabulators" in Roscommon County, Richfield Township, Lake Township and Irving Township between March and June of 2021, Chief Deputy Attorney General Christina Grossi disclosed last month.

Other alleged conspirators include Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, attorney Stefanie Lambert Juntilla, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, Ben Cotton, Jeff Lenberg, Ann Howard and James Penrose, according to the petition for special prosecutor.

DePerno and others associated with the investigation have denied they did anything illegal, and DePerno has accused Nessel of trying to damage him politically

The DePerno campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment related to Hilson’s Thursday update.

Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson requested the vote machine probe in February. A Republican-led state Senate committee had earlier alluded to DePerno in asking Nessel to investigate “those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

DePerno represented a local activist in a lawsuit seeking a "forensic audit" of 2020 election results in Antrim County, where an error by the clerk initially skewed unofficial results. DePerno has appealed lower court losses to the Michigan Supreme Court, where justices have not yet decided to hear the case.

The Antrim County lawsuit, and a report prepared by a team DePerno allowed to examine a Dominion machine there, spawned global conspiracy theories about voting tabulators and fueled Trump's efforts to overturn Michigan's 2020 election despite his 154,188-vote loss to Democrat Joe Biden. 

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